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Thin people can’t get type 2 diabetes, and other myths

Consumer Reports News: July 30, 2009 03:06 PM

When I was 12, my well-meaning uncle told me I could "catch diabetes" from eating too much candy. Of course, his advice was likely a scare tactic to help me tame my overactive sweet tooth. I later found out that while loading up on sweets is not a direct cause of diabetes, sugary foods can trigger the condition in someone with prediabetes.

Type 2 diabetes is a complicated and often deceptive disease—and popular misconceptions can make it tricky for a person to be diagnosed and effectively manage their condition. Public-health officials estimate that of the 24 million Americans with type 2 diabetes, and nearly one-quarter are unaware they have the disease. Our recent diabetes survey also revealed confusion when it came to listing risk factors, symptoms, and complications related to type 2 diabetes.

One such risk factor, obesity, brings us to another big diabetes myth: You have to be overweight to develop diabetes, and thin people can’t get the disease. While there’s no doubt that obesity is a major contributor to type 2 diabetes, genetics also play a role. Blood sugar levels can increase even in thin people and our experts recommend that people aged 45 and older have their blood sugar checked every three years.

If you think you might have diabetes, don’t listen to the myths—even the well-meaning ones from our relatives can mean delayed detection and treatment. Know the risk factors to look out for and talk to your doctor about your blood sugar.

Ginger Skinner

Test your diabetes smarts and take a look at more diabetes myths. Find out more on other types of diabetes, save money on diabetes drugs with our free Best Buy Drugs report, and find out which drugs work best (subscribers only).  

Photo courtesy of D Sharon Pruitt

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