Type 2 diabetes means the body does not use insulin properly. At first, a person’s pancreas makes extra insulin to make up for it. But, over time it isn’t able to keep up and can’t make enough insulin to keep your blood glucose at at normal levels. This can pose life-threatening health risks such as strokes and heart disease. It is therefore imperative that people are clued up about the condition, yet a number of popular misconceptions persist.
According to Dr Mosley, these include:
1. It only affects old people
“Although your risk of developing type 2 diabetes increases with age, it is increasingly common to see young people with type 2 diabetes,” said Dr Mosley.
The latest figures show that nearly 7,000 people under the age of 25 are being treated by the NHS for type 2.
2. You only get type 2 diabetes if you are overweight.
Carrying excess weight significantly raises the risk of developing the disease, but nearly one quarter of people with type 2 diabetes have a normal Body Mass Index (less than 25), explained Dr Mosley.
“You are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes if you have a large waist (your waist should be less than half your height) or you have a family history of diabetes,” added Dr Mosley.
3. Type 2 diabetes is a benign disease you can treat with medication
Dr Mosley said: “Although medication will help reduce some of the complications of having high blood sugar levels, even on medication you are at much greater risk of heart disease, dementia and having a limb amputated.”
4. If you have type 2 diabetes you will know because of symptoms, like being thirsty
Although common symptoms include feeling very thirsty, passing urine more often than usual, feeling very tired and feeling very hungry (yet losing weight), this doesn’t reveal the true picture.
As Dr Mosley explained: “Around one in four people who have diabetes don’t have such symptoms and only discover they are at risk through a blood test or when something goes seriously wrong.”
5. It is an incurable disease that inevitably progresses
“There is a lot of evidence now that if you change what you eat and lose weight, particularly around the gut, you can reduce your reliance on medication and restore your blood sugars to normal,” said Dr Mosley.
He continued: “I lost 9kg (20lbs) more than seven years ago and my blood sugars, which had been in the diabetic range, have been healthy ever since.
“That’s why I wrote the Fast800 and, with the help of other health experts, developed the Fast800 online programme. People doing the programme have lost an average of over 2lbs a week and over 90 percent would recommend it to their friends.
According to Diabetes.co.uk, other popular myths include sugar being off-limits. In fact, people with diabetes need to eat a diet that is balanced, which can include some sugar in moderation, the health site explained.
Another potentially offensive misconception is that people with diabetes are bad drivers, said the health body. The main danger of driving for people with diabetes is if hypoglycemia occurs. “However, hypoglycemia is a preventable state and the vast majority of people with diabetes at risk of hypos exercise care to avoid hypos taking place whilst driving.
“Statistics show that diabetics are no less safe on the road than anyone else with significant accidents being attributed to hypoglycemia affecting less 0.2 percent of drivers treated with insulin,” explained the health body.
A dangerous myth that has been spread is that people with diabetes shouldn’t play sport, added the charity.
It explained: “People with diabetes should take part in exercise to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
“There are some factors worth considering before partaking in sport, but there is no reason why people with diabetes can’t participate in most cases.”