19 Myths about Type 2 diabetes
Developing Type 2 diabetes
- Myth: Type 2 diabetes only affects people who are overweight
Type 2 diabetes is associated with obesity, but you don’t have to be overweight to develop diabetes.
- Myth: Eating and drinking too much sugar causes Type 2 diabetes
Eating and drinking too much sugar does not cause diabetes, but you could be increasing your risk of diabetes if the sugar leads to weight gain.
- Myth: Only adults can develop Type 2 diabetes
Many children are diagnosed with diabetes have Type 1 diabetes, however there are more overweight children and teenagers being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.
- Myth: No one in my family has Type 2 diabetes, so I can’t get diabetes
Although family history is a risk factor of developing Type 2 diabetes, so are increasing age, being overweight and inactivity along with certain medical conditions and medication.
- Myth: You can’t do anything to prevent developing Type 2 diabetes
Some of the risk factors of Type 2 diabetes like ethnic background and family history can’t be changed, but you can help reduce the risk of diabetes by maintaining a healthy weight, regular activity and eating a healthy balanced diet.
- Myth: Type 2 diabetes is contagious
Type 2 diabetes is not contagious whilst we do not know exactly why some people develop diabetes we do know it is not spread from person to person.
Type 2 diabetes and diagnosis
- Myth: Symptoms of Type 2 diabetes are easy to spot
Sometimes the symptoms of diabetes like tiredness, thirst and drinking more are easily missed especially when they develop slowly and overtime. Some people have no obvious symptoms and their diabetes is picked up through a routine blood test.
Consequences of Type 2 diabetes
- Myth: Having Type 2 diabetes means you have to give yourself insulin injections
In many cases Type 2 diabetes is treated with a healthy eating, physical activity and tablets. Sometimes injectable medication or insulin is required. When insulin injections are needed this is because your body is not producing enough insulin or the insulin is not working properly to keep your blood glucose within a healthy range.
- Myth: Type 2 diabetes is the same for everyone
Your experience and management of diabetes will be different to someone else. Your healthcare team can provide you with support and offer advice on an individual healthy eating plan, weight control, physical activity and treatment.
- Myth: You are more likely to get colds or the flu if you have Type 2 diabetes.
Having Type 2 diabetes does not raise your risk of catching a cold or flu, but may affect your blood glucose levels and require a change to your medication.
- Myth: Type 2 diabetes is a mild form of diabetes and not that serious
Type 2 diabetes is a medical condition that requires careful monitoring and follow-up with your healthcare team. You can help reduce the risk of serious complication developing by keeping your blood glucoses levels within a healthy range by following a healthy eating plan, keeping active, maintaining a healthy weight and following your treatment plan.
Type 2 diabetes and diet
- Myth: You can never eat sugar when you have Type 2 diabetes
Ideally eat sugary foods as part of a healthy eating plan and combine with physical activity. The key is small portion sizes and keeping sugary foods for those special occasions.
- Myth: People with Type 2 diabetes should only eat diabetic food
Foods labelled as ‘diabetic’ have no special benefit and often have similar amounts of calories and fat. These foods can affect your blood glucose levels, as well as having a laxative effect and are often very expensive.
- Myth: People with Type 2 diabetes have to cut out starchy foods like pasta and rice
Aim to include starchy food (carbohydrates) as part of a healthy balanced diet. Be careful with your portion sizes and balance against physical exercise, current weight and nutritional goals.
- Myth: People with Type 2 diabetes have to snack regularly instead of eating large meals
The importance of healthy eating is to achieve your target blood glucose control, good blood fat level, blood pressure and a healthy weight. Regular snacks can make it difficult to maintain a healthy weight and affect your diabetes management. If you are hungry between meals opt for healthy choices such as a piece of fruit and watch the portion size. If you are snacking regular to avoid hypos (low blood glucose) speak to your healthcare team.
- Myth: Having Type 2 diabetes means you can’t drink alcohol
People with diabetes who choose to drink alcohol need to take extra care keeping food, medication and blood glucose in balance. If you decide to drink alcohol speak with your healthcare team especially when there are other medical conditions or medication.
Type 2 diabetes and medication
- Myth: People with Type 2 diabetes need insulin when they don’t look after themselves
Overtime the pancreas produces less insulin or the insulin just isn’t working properly in the body causing the blood glucose to rise. When this happens insulin injections are prescribed to help lower the blood glucose and improve your blood glucose levels. Insulin can also be prescribed when diagnosed with certain medical conditions or prescribed medication that is known to increase the blood glucose, for example taking steroids to treat an asthma attack.
- Myth: Insulin therapy makes you gain weight
Insulin per se does not cause weight gain it is the effect it has on the body. Insulin helps glucose enter the cells for energy, when this cannot happen the blood glucose levels rise and the kidneys remove the extra glucose into the urine. Glucose present in the urine means the urine contains calories, so you are flushing away both calories and fluid hence the weight loss. When insulin therapy is started this process is corrected, you begin to retain the calories and fluid and your weight increases. If you are concerned about your weight speak with your healthcare team, as you may need to make some dietary changes.
- Myth: Herbal supplements help Type 2 diabetes
Healthy eating, physical activity and maintaining a healthy weight are the first steps of managing diabetes. When these lifestyle measures are not enough to maintain your blood glucose levels medication is required. Along with these lifestyle measure and medication people with diabetes have tried herbs and supplements to improve their diabetes. However, there is currently only limited evidence of any benefit. Your healthcare team can help you decide which medications will work best for you.
Although every effort is made to ensure that all health advice on this website is accurate and up to date it is for information purposes and should not replace a visit to your doctor or health care professional.
As the advice is general in nature rather than specific to individuals Dr Vanderpump cannot accept any liability for actions arising from its use nor can he be held responsible for the content of any pages referenced by an external link