Diabetes Myths Debunked

The incidence of Diabetes in Australia is growing with one person being diagnosed every five minutes. Being diagnosed with Diabetes can be confusing as you are given a lot of information on what it means and what you can do to manage the condition. The internet is a place that people often visit to find more information and reduce the confusion However, there can be a lot of false ‘facts’. Below we debunk some of the common myths about diabetes.

Diabetes Myths and Facts


Myth: Diabetes is a mild condition

Fact: Diabetes is a serious condition that if not well controlled can lead to other chronic complications. These chronic complications can have a significant impact on the person and their families. In 2005, 11% people with diabetes had a heart attack and 23% died from kidney disease.

Myth: Only people who are overweight develop diabetes

Fact: Being overweight or obese is a risk factor for developing Type 2 Diabetes. However, people who are of a healthy weight can still develop Type 2 Diabetes while people who are overweight or obese may not. There are many other risk factors that may cause Diabetes regardless of a persons’ weight. These include, being physically inactive, family history, race, age, hypertension (high blood pressure), gestational diabetes and high cholesterol.

Myth: People with Diabetes can’t exercise or play sport

Fact: People with Type 1 and 2 Diabetes can exercise or participate in sport. Exercise and sport play a vital role in the management of Diabetes as they help to lower blood glucose (sugar) and reduce the risk of developing chronic complications.

Myth: Only people with Type 1 Diabetes need to use insulin

Fact: As Type 2 Diabetes is a progressive condition, overtime the body produces less insulin. When someone with Diabetes isn’t producing enough of their own insulin they will need insulin therapy to help manage their Diabetes. Of those with Type 2 Diabetes, 50% will need to use insulin within 10 years of being diagnosed.

Myth: I don’t need to test my blood sugar levels because I can tell when they are high or low

Fact: People with Diabetes may experience hypoglycaemia, or a hypo, or a low, and not experience any symptoms, or the symptoms they experience may change. Some symptoms of hypoglycaemia such as, feeling shaky, lightheaded or dizzy may also be a symptom of an unrelated illness. Similarly, symptoms of hyperglycemia, or high blood sugar, such as excessive urination may be because you have a bladder infection. It is very difficult to tell if a persons’ blood glucose levels are high or low and it should be monitored frequently.

Myth: When you take medication or use insulin for Diabetes you don’t have to make changes to your lifestyle

Fact: Just because someone is taking medication or using insulin that does not mean they don’t have to make changes to their lifestyle. Diabetes medication, insulin and exercise all work together to help manage blood glucose levels. During exercise multiple things happen with how the body interacts with glucose. The muscles use the glucose that is stored as glycogen for fuel, emptying the body’s store. This means excess glucose in the blood can be removed and used to refill the store that has now been emptied. Secondly, the muscle is also able to use glucose without insulin. When you begin an exercise program you may need to adjust your medication dosage and time. Please consult your doctor or Credentialed Diabetes Educator for guidance.

Myth: Pre-diabetes isn’t as serious as diabetes

Fact: Pre-diabetes is when blood glucose levels are higher than normal but aren’t high enough for someone to be diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes. Pre-diabetes increases the risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes and cardiovascular disease. It is possible to reverse pre-diabetes through lifestyle changes such as eating a healthy diet and participating in regular exercise. However, it is estimated that without these changes one in three people with pre-diabetes will develop Type 2 Diabetes.

For further support regarding your Diabetes and exercise please contact your local Accredited Exercise Physiologist!



Written by Accredited Exercise Physiologist, Courtney Wharton