Over 20 million people in the U.S. are living with type 1 or type 2 diabetes, yet many myths about diabetes remain. Here are five of the most common misconceptions—and what you need to know to separate fact from pure condition fiction.
Diabetes Myth #1: Diabetes is not a serious disease.
Fact: Diabetes causes more deaths each year than breast cancer and AIDS combined. Two out of three people with diabetes die from heart disease or stroke, and diabetes is the leading cause of new blindness, kidney failure and amputations unrelated to trauma.
Diabetes Myth #2: If you are overweight or obese, you will eventually develop type 2 diabetes.
Fact: Being overweight is a risk factor for diabetes, but family history, ethnicity and age are also important. Not every overweight person will develop type 2 diabetes, and many people who are normal weight or only moderately overweight can develop type 2 diabetes.
Diabetes Myth #3: Eating too much sugar causes diabetes.
Fact: No, it does not. Type 1 diabetes is caused by genetics and unknown factors that trigger the onset of the disease; type 2 diabetes is caused by genetics and lifestyle factors. Being overweight does increase your risk, and a diet high in calories, whether from sugar or fat, can contribute to weight gain.
Diabetes Myth #4: People with diabetes should eat special diabetic foods.
Fact: A healthy meal plan for people with diabetes is generally the same as a healthy diet for anyone—low in fat (especially saturated and trans fat), salt and sugar. Aim for non-starchy vegetables and a moderate amount of fruit, whole grains and lean protein. Diabetic or dietetic foods generally offer no special benefit.
Diabetes Myth #5: If you have type 2 diabetes and your doctor says you need to start using insulin, it means you're failing to take care of your diabetes properly.
Fact: For most people, type 2 diabetes is a progressive disease. At first, many people with type 2 diabetes can keep their blood glucose at a healthy level with oral medications. Over time, the body gradually produces less and less of its own insulin. Eventually oral medications may not be enough to keep blood glucose levels normal. Using insulin to get blood glucose levels to a healthy level helps to prevent complications.
Bust More Myths with Ongoing Diabetes Education
Live Well with Diabetes is a comprehensive diabetes education program at Sansum Clinic. It features all the latest information for people living with diabetes and is a must for anyone newly diagnosed. Family and friends are encouraged to attend.
For more information, and to register, please see our current diabetes class schedule or call (866) 829-0909.