Healthy living

One million people with diabetes keep it secret

One million with diabetes keep it secret Fear of discrimination puts health at risk

Around one million people in the UK keep their diabetes secret, and by doing so are putting their health at risk, a health charity has warned.

A survey carried out for Diabetes UK found that one in three people with diabetes kept their diabetes secret, or had done so in the past.

Many of the people questioned said they missed insulin injections or delayed testing their blood glucose to avoid drawing attention to themselves.

Badly managed blood glucose levels can increase the risk of long term complications, such as heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, blindness and amputation.

Short term complications, such as diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) and hypoglycaemia can lead to hospitalisation or even be fatal if not treated immediately.

Half of those who kept their condition secret felt that not talking about their diabetes had an impact on how they manage their condition and over a third felt this had affected their physical or emotional health.

More than a quarter of those questioned said that they had kept their condition quiet for fear of discrimination or bullying, especially at work.

However 56 per cent of those questioned had also kept their diabetes a secret from friends.

Nearly half of all young people aged between 17 to 21 said they had kept their condition secret.

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

Barbara Young, chief executive of Diabetes UK, said: “We have to ask why so many people with diabetes keep it a secret. Learning to live with and managing diabetes is challenging enough without the physical and psychological impact of such a burden.

"It is hugely concerning that the health and well-being of so many people could be at risk as a result of discrimination or prejudice.”

This article was published on Mon 13 June 2011

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