Fact or Fiction: What’s Real and What’s a Rumor When It Comes to Diabetes

There are over 37 million Americans currently living with diabetes – that’s more than 11% of the entire United States population, and the number is on the rise. 

With so many people impacted by the disease, so many different risk factors contributing to it, and so many methods of treatment, it’s only natural that there’s a lot of conflicting information swirling around out there about diabetes.

In this post, we hope to put some of the debate to rest by addressing a number of established truths and common misconceptions about diabetes. After all, diabetes is a serious medical condition and it’s important to separate fact from fiction to manage it correctly.

Here are some of the realities and rumors you should know the facts about.  


You only develop Type 2 diabetes if you’re overweight.

Fiction. While obesity does elevate a person’s risk for developing Type 2 diabetes, being overweight does not mean you’re sure to develop the disease. Other factors also play a major role, including family history, physical activity level, diet, ethnicity, and age. In fact, many people who develop Type 2 diabetes are at a normal weight or are only moderately overweight.


Lots of people have diabetes, it’s not that serious of a disease.

Fiction. While great strides have been made in understanding and treating diabetes, including new advancements in blood sugar testing and insulin delivery, which have made living with the disease far more manageable today than in years past, diabetes is still a very serious condition. In fact, it is the seventh leading cause of death in The United States, with most deaths coming from diabetes-related health complications, including cardiovascular disease and kidney disease. Yes, you can effectively manage diabetes, but it is certainly not a disease that should be taken lightly.


Diabetes is not contagious.

Fact. While science is still not entirely sure why some people develop diabetes and others don’t, it is established that diabetes is not contagious. It does not work like the flu or common cold. One person cannot give it to another through contact, blood, saliva, or any means.


I have diabetes, so I’m more likely to get sick.

Fiction. In general, people with well-managed diabetes are no more likely to catch a cold or the flu than individuals without the disease. However, people with diabetes are more likely to experience severe symptoms that can put them at greater risk of complications should they catch the flu or other illness.


Many people with diabetes remain undiagnosed.

Fact. And a frightening one at that! There are more than 37 million Americans living with diabetes, but nearly 25% of these people (more than 8.5 million) remain undiagnosed, which means they are living with an elevated risk of developing serious health complications, including heart disease, kidney disease, nerve damage, stroke, vision loss and others. The longer these individuals remain undiagnosed, the greater the risk of developing diabetes-related health complications.


Diabetes can lead to blindness.

Fact. Diabetes, especially when blood sugar is not well controlled and is allowed to remain elevated for prolonged periods, can lead to serious eye complications. One of the most serious, diabetic retinopathy (nerve damage related to the eye), is the leading cause of irreversible blindness in working age adult Americans.


People with diabetes can’t eat sweets.

Fiction. Look sugary sweets are certainly not the best choice for people living with diabetes. However, there’s no reason the occasional indulgence can’t be enjoyed. The key, as with many things related to diabetes, is moderation. Eat smaller sweet treats and don’t consume them every day. Sweets should be reserved for special occasions, but as long as they are properly worked into a diabetes-healthy meal plan, they certainly aren’t off limits.


Everyone with Type 2 diabetes needs to take insulin.

Fiction. While many people with Type 2 diabetes benefit from insulin administered by syringe, pen, or pump device to control blood sugar, others can manage the disease with dietary and lifestyle adjustments. The catch is that the longer a person lives with Type 2 diabetes, the more likely that person will require insulin or other medications to effectively manage blood sugar.


Everyone with Type 1 diabetes needs to take insulin.

Fact. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune condition in which the beta cells of the pancreas are attacked and destroyed by the body’s own immune system, rendering the body unable to produce any insulin. Therefore, everyone who is diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes will require insulin treatments for the rest of their lives, which is why continuous glucose monitoring (CGM), as well as insulin pump and tubeless patch devices are quite often prescribed for those with Type 1 diabetes.


Sugar-free foods and drinks are better for those with diabetes.

Fiction. Don’t be fooled by the sugar-free moniker. These foods and drinks often contain an excess of carbohydrates, which break down into sugar once consumed. Additionally, many are high in calories, which doesn’t do anyone with Type 2 diabetes who is also battling weight issues any good. Sugar-free can be okay, but it’s important to read the labels to be sure.


People with diabetes require special diets.

Fact and fiction. People living with diabetes do have to carefully watch what they eat – limiting carbohydrates, sugars, and fats to help control blood sugar. However, a diabetes-friendly diet is essentially just a healthy diet, one that is ideal for controlling weight, lowering the risk of heart disease and hypertension, and living a healthy life. There are no “special foods” that those with diabetes must eat. In fact, for most people diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, a good diet is a matter of replacing poor dietary habits of the past with new healthier options.


It's best to avoid using medicines like insulin for as long as possible.

Fiction. While some people with Type 2 diabetes can successfully manage their disease with exercise and dietary changes, others cannot. Left unchecked, high blood sugar can dramatically increase the risk of heart disease, organ damage, vision problems, and more. The key to successfully living with Type 2 diabetes boils down to controlling blood sugar. If that is best done by incorporating the use of insulin and other medications with lifestyle changes, so be it. When insulin is necessary, it is necessary – and a good thing for managing diabetes. 


No one in my family has diabetes, so I won’t get it.

Fiction. While a family history of Type 2 diabetes can increase the likelihood of someone developing it, lots of other factors also come into play. The risk of diabetes elevates with age and is higher for those who already have a risk factor, such as obesity or high blood pressure. The point is, just because no one in your family has diabetes, doesn’t mean you won’t develop it.


We hope you found this post about what’s fact and what’s fiction with diabetes helpful. At Diabetic Warehouse, we’re committed to helping those with diabetes manage blood sugar with a complete selection of testing and treatment supplies at prices up to 65% less than those found at most pharmacies and suppliers.

Diabetic Warehouse is a trusted supplier of diabetes care products and accessories. For more information and to explore a complete range of products, including glucose meters and test strips, insulin syringes, pen needles, continuous glucose monitoring systems, and more, visit

3 THOUGHTS ON “Diabetes: Fact or Fiction”

by David w. smith

Very helpful information.

by Deborah L Brown

I was 43 years old when I collapsed in a coma not realizing that even though there were several type 1 diabetic family members in my ancestry and I had gestational diabetes with my first pregnancy it had not occurred to me that I could be diabetic. After 6 days in a coma from collapsing in my bathroom floor, the wonderful medical team at the hospital where I was taking discover that Not only was I diabetic but I was a type 1 diabetic. I had severe diabetic ketoacidosis and frankly they had not expected me to survive. Thankfully I did and I’m currently almost 62 years old and I’m wearing a CGM. My initial A1C was 14.8 and it is now regularly 6.1 up to 7.2. I’m trying to do better as I’d like to get it down below 6% and keep it there. Thankfully I have no organ damage but my eyes are terrible. Everyone please get checked even if you think there’s no chance, even if you have no symptoms. It’s a simple test it can be done within 6 minutes at your doctor’s office and all insurances cover it.

by William Bennett

Please add:

Only children get Type 1 diabetes
FICTION. Type 1, or auto-immune, diabetes can occur at any age. In fact, the age-neutral “Type” terminology was adopted in part to break the association with age of onset as a factor in diagnosing Type 1.