Almost one million people in the UK are estimated to keep the fact that they have diabetes a secret, for fear of discrimination or news of their condition affecting their career and employment prospects.
A survey by charity Diabetes UK has warned that diabetics could be risking their physical and mental health as a result.
More than 3,700 people took part in the poll, which found that one in three had kept, or were still keeping, their diabetes a secret.
Half of these felt that not talking about their condition affected how they managed it and more than one-third felt that this had affected their physical or emotional health.
More than a quarter (27%) had kept their condition a secret for fear of discrimination or bullying, while nearly six out of 10 kept it a secret at work and 56% kept it secret from their friends. Reasons for doing so included not wanting diabetes to affect employment chances or worrying that people would assume the condition had developed because of an unhealthy diet.
Many added that as a result they missed insulin injections or delayed testing their blood glucose to avoid drawing attention to themselves, thereby potentially putting their health at risk, as badly managed blood glucose levels can increase the risk of long- and short-term complications.
Barbara Young, chief executive of Diabetes UK, said: “It is hugely concerning that the health and wellbeing of so many people could be at risk as a result of discrimination or prejudice.
“There are 2.8 million people diagnosed with diabetes in the UK who need friends, family, employers and the public to understand how common diabetes is becoming and how serious it can be if people aren’t supported to manage their condition,” she added.