There are many myths about diabetes which can make separating fact from fiction difficult.
To cut through the confusion, Diabetes Australia has broken down some common misconceptions.
Myth: All diabetes is the same. There are several types of diabetes. The most common are type 1, type 2 and gestational diabetes. Each type has different causes and may be managed in different ways but once someone has any type of diabetes, it requires daily management..
Myth: Diabetes can be prevented. Type 1 is an autoimmune condition - it cannot be prevented and there is no cure. Its cause is still unknown. Evidence shows prevention programs can help prevent type 2 diabetes in up to 58 per cent of cases. It has no single cause but there are well-established risk factors although your risk of developing diabetes is affected by things you cannot change, such as family history and ethnicity.
Myth: You must be overweight or obese to develop diabetes. Being overweight or obese is a risk factor for type 2 diabetes but not a direct cause. Some people who are overweight may not develop type 2 diabetes while others of healthy weight will. Type 1 diabetes is not preventable and not associated with weight, physical inactivity or any other lifestyle factors.
Myth: You only get type 1 diabetes when you’re young. The onset of type 1 diabetes occurs most frequently in people under 30.
However, research suggests almost half of those who develop it are diagnosed over the age of 30.
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Myth: You only get type 2 diabetes when you’re old. Type 2 diabetes usually develops in adults over 45 but is increasingly occurring in younger age groups, including children.
Myth: People with diabetes can’t eat dessert. Because diabetes affects blood glucose levels, many think they need to avoid foods containing sugar. But, combined with exercise and as part of a healthy meal plan, they can eat sweets and desserts. Moderation is the key.
Myth: People with type 1 diabetes can’t play sports or exercise. Many Australian sport champions have type 1 diabetes. These include Jack Fitzpatrick, who plays for the Hawthorn AFL club.
Myth: No one in my family has diabetes so I don’t have to worry. Family history is just one risk factor for type 2 diabetes.
Myth: Only people with type 1 diabetes need insulin. Type 2 diabetes is a progressive condition – 50 percent of people with it will need insulin after 6-10 years of diagnosis because the pancreas produces less insulin over time.
Taking medication when required can result in fewer long-term complications and is part of managing type 2 diabetes.