Diabetes Resources

Myths About Diabetes

How misinformation clouds our thinking

Myths about diabetes are in no way constructive. For that reason, the friends and families of kids who have the disease probably have learned what's true and what isn't.

But a lot of people who haven't had direct contact with the disease often harbor some pretty serious misconceptions about diabetes. That's a problem. In fact, it's two problems:

1. Bad information (in this case, myths about diabetes) is never a positive force.

2. If a person who harbors this misinformation is in a position of influence over someone with the disease, the results can be dire.


This article is a list of the most common myths about diabetes currently floating around. It's meant to set the record straight; to separate the fiction from the fact.

Here are the most common myths about diabetes today:

1. Kids with diabetes can't play sports

Imagine being a kid or young adult who loves baseball (or football or golf or dance or a thousand other active endeavors).

Then you find out you have diabetes.

Then, your coach drops you from the team (because "Kids with diabetes can't play sports.").

How would you feel?

This is not fact. It's one of the most harmful myths about diabetes. Diabetes, in itself, does not preclude anyone from being an athlete or otherwise getting a lot of exercise and being active. If there are other issues, those issues must be addressed, of course. But simply being diabetic doesn't stop anyone from being a star basketball or football player, or a dancer, or a marathoner or a world-class golfer.

2. Diabetes is contagious

This is one of those myths about diabetes that persists, despite all kinds of attempts to correct it. One thing we know for a fact is that diabetes is not contagious. It is definite that you can't catch diabetes; sitting on a bus, having a play-date, playing Wii, drinking after, you just can't catch it from another person- FACT!

3. Type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes are the same disease

Not true. It's another of the myths about diabetes. While the symptoms of both can be similar, the causes of these two types of diabetes are quite different. Type 1 diabetes is thought to be an immune system disorder that prevents the body from producing insulin at all. Type 2 diabetes is either the result of the body's inability to use the insulin it produces efficiently, or, for various reasons, the body has stopped producing insulin. Read this article for more information on the three main types of diabetes.

4. Kids with diabetes can't eat sweets

False. Kids (and anybody else) with diabetes can eat sweets as long their consumption is part of a healthy meal plan. The rules about eating sweets are about the same for people with diabetes as they are for people without diabetes. What coaches (and others) should know) for more information about the role of sweets in the diabetic diet.

5. Eating too much sugar causes diabetes

Wrong. Eating too much sugar has nothing to do with type 1 diabetes! An individual did not get diabetes from eating the wrong things. However, being overweight does increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. However, it does not cause any type of diabetes. Read this article for more information on the causes of diabetes.

6. You shouldn't ask questions about diabetes

Ask!!! It's OK! There are some who believe that asking diabetics or their families about the disease is somehow rude. This is another of the myths about diabetes. People who have diabetes want others to know the facts about the disease. They also want them to know about the common myths.

7. People with diabetes should eat only special foods

It's all about balance! Healthy food for diabetics is the same as healthy food for anyone. It should be low in fat and contain only a measured amount of salt and sugar. The diet should be based on whole grain foods, vegetables and fruit. According to the American Diabetes Association, "Diabetic and ‘dietetic' versions of sugar-containing foods offer no special benefit. They still raise blood glucose levels, are usually more expensive and can also have a laxative effect if they contain sugar alcohols."

8. People with diabetes are more likely to get colds and other illnesses

Not so. People with diabetes are no more likely to get colds and other illnesses than people without. However, it's smart for people with diabetes to get flu shots because infection interferes with blood glucose management, which is extremely important for people with diabetes.

Return to the Diabetes Library