I felt that if I told people, then they would think it was my fault.... 
that if I had worked out harder or eaten better, I might have prevented it.
It is not fair to judge which diabetes condition is more serious, all types of diabetes have a serious impact on people’s health, it is a difficult condition which takes a lot of time, persistence and care to manage.

Monday, 25 April 2011

Combating the Stigma associated with Type 2 Diabetes

If you have diabetes, you may run into a "blame the victim" mindset. Type 2 diabetes still carries a certain stigma.

Type 2 Diabetes is often thought of as a disease caused by too much food and too little exercise and indeed, it can be exacerbated by those factors. This perception unfairly casts type 2 diabetes as a willpower problem.

Genes and other factors  play a complex role in determining who gets type 2 diabetes and who doesn't. While the likelihood of having type 2 diabetes increases with age and weight, that isn't always the case. Anywhere from 10% to 20% of all people who have the disease are not overweight. What's more, many overweight people never get diabetes.

"People think, 'Oh well, you deserve it: You've overeaten, you've abused yourself, and that's why you have diabetes,'"

People with type 2 diabetes sometimes shy away from talking about it. I  felt that if I told people, then they would think it was my fault,,,,, that if I had worked out harder or eaten better, I might have prevented it.

Lack of knowledge contributes to stigma
Talking about diabetes can help, because part of the problem is a lack of knowledge about diabetes in general.

"There's an important genetic contribution to developing diabetes that's out of people's control," says William Bornstein, MD, an endocrinologist at the Emory Clinic in Atlanta. "Secondly, It may actually be harder for diabetics to lose weight and that may be part of the disease as well."

In some cases, patients can develop complications after years of carefully controlling their blood sugar and people will still accuse them of causing their own problems because they saw them, say, eating a piece of cake.

"That's not true at all. I mean, their diabetes was under good control. In that situation, having a piece of cake was no worse for them than it is for anybody else," says Dr. Bornstein. "So I think that that's an unfortunate aspect of diabetes and we need to do a better job of helping understand that this blame is not appropriate and not helpful at all."


  1. That's very thought-provoking, and of course it's not helped by a large proportion of the medical profession saying that because populations are becoming more overweight and obese, that T2 diabetes will increase. Can hardly blame journalists or the public for thinking weight gain = higher risk of T2 diabetes when those generalisations are coming out of the mouths of experts.

    I will however agree that there is a huge amount of ignorance around about it, which is why I think you have started such an excellent blog.

  2. Thanks Kate. The trick to good db care is either to take control and be proactive or find a gp who has an interest in diabetes. Even then you should be your primary carer.

  3. sorry I am not sure whether you have type one or type two?