June 13, 2011

UK: Diabetes UK finds that a third of sufferers hide their condition

LONDON, England / The Guardian / Society / Diabetes / June 12, 2011

Concealed diabetes fearing discrimination or bullying


By Ben Quinn

A diabetic injects insulin. One in three with the condition conceal it.
Photograph: Martin Godwin for the Guardian

Nearly a million people in the UK are risking ill health by keeping their diabetes secret, according to a survey that found one in three with the condition had concealed it. Almost half felt not talking about their condition affected how they managed it, research by Diabetes UK found.

Some respondents to the survey for the charity said they missed insulin injections or delayed testing their blood glucose to avoid drawing attention to themselves. Those aged 17 to 21 were most likely to keep the condition secret, while women were more likely to do so than men. More than a quarter who hid their diabetes said they feared discrimination or bullying, while they were also most likely to keep it from work colleagues.

Reasons for doing so included not wanting diabetes to affect employment opportunities or people assuming the condition developed as a result of an unhealthy diet.

Barbara Young, chief Executive of Diabetes UK, said: "Sadly diabetes can still have the stigma that people with the condition have themselves to blame. Being overweight can be linked to type 2 diabetes, but this is not true for 20% and has no bearing on type 1 diabetes.

"Fear of social prejudice can make people unwilling to open up about their condition, which can have a profound effect on their health and wellbeing."

Diabetes UK is aims to raise awareness of the importance of talking about the condition during Diabetes Week. The charity also wants to raise funds to expand Careline, a service providing information and emotional support to anyone experiencing emotional distress, anxiety, depression and other difficulties related to the condition.

More than 2.8 million people have been diagnosed with diabetes in the UK.

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