What's wrong with calling someone diabetic?

You may ask what the big deal is with the word “diabetic.” In short, it is not helpful to label someone as their disease. People have diabetes -- they aren’t their diabetes. You wouldn’t call somebody with cancer a “canceric.”

While it is easy short-hand to say “diabetic,” it doesn’t communicate anything helpful about diabetes. Indeed, calling someone "diabetic" tends to spread misinformation and encourage stereotypes. People with diabetes are a very diverse group of people with different needs. They are living a life with diabetes.

Continue Learning about Diabetes


Diabetes mellitus (MEL-ih-tus), often referred to as diabetes, is characterized by high blood glucose (sugar) levels that result from the body’s inability to produce enough insulin and/or effectively utilize the insulin. Diabetes ...

is a serious, life-long condition and the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. Diabetes is a disorder of metabolism (the body's way of digesting food and converting it into energy). There are three forms of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease that accounts for five- to 10-percent of all diagnosed cases of diabetes. Type 2 diabetes may account for 90- to 95-percent of all diagnosed cases. The third type of diabetes occurs in pregnancy and is referred to as gestational diabetes. Left untreated, gestational diabetes can cause health issues for pregnant women and their babies. People with diabetes can take preventive steps to control this disease and decrease the risk of further complications.

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.