One in five search results for diabetes reveal misinformation, IDF warns

06 July 2022

One in five Google searches for terms related to diabetes reveal inaccurate information about the condition and how to manage its complications, according to IDF. Research carried out by IDF found that searches for terms including ‘diabetes’, ‘how to manage diabetes’ and ’diabetes symptoms’ featured results and answers to questions from non-medical sources including Wikipedia, Amazon and Facty – the last of which showed an article on home remedies for diabetes.

Out of 30 search results (the first results page for each search term), six links directed users to unverified information. In one case, for the search term ‘diabetes’, users were displayed an advert from an organisation that aims to ‘wean people living with diabetes from insulin.’ Without an uninterrupted supply of insulin, type 1 diabetes is a death sentence. Many people with type 2 diabetes also need insulin to manage their condition. Any decisions to reduce insulin treatment should be taken in close consultation with a qualified healthcare professional, preferably a specialist in diabetes.

The number of people living with diabetes continues to rise around the world, with the latest IDF estimates indicating that one in nine adults will be affected by 2030. This is putting added strain on healthcare systems that, following two years of a global pandemic, are already struggling. Healthcare professionals must know how to detect and diagnose the condition early and provide the best possible care; while people living with diabetes need access to ongoing education to understand their condition and carry out the daily self-care essential to staying healthy and avoiding complications.

According to IDF figures, an estimated 44.7% of adults living with diabetes (240 million people) across the world are undiagnosed. The overwhelming majority have type 2 diabetes. When diabetes is undetected and inadequately treated, people with diabetes are at higher risk of serious and life-threatening complications.

“Many people now turn to Google and the internet for advice, so it’s worrying that misinformation about diabetes is still rife online. With the prevalence of diabetes showing no signs of declining, ensuring that healthcare professionals are equipped to provide the best possible care and that people with diabetes can make informed decisions about their self-care is more important than ever. We need quality education today to help protect tomorrow,” says Professor Andrew Boulton, IDF President.

“Education to protect tomorrow” is the theme of IDF’s campaign to mark World Diabetes Day in November this year. Activities will highlight the need for improved access to reliable diabetes education for people living with diabetes and healthcare professionals.

IDF is committed to facilitating learning opportunities for all people concerned by diabetes. A new online platform has been launched providing free interactive courses to help people with diabetes and their carers to understand and manage their condition. The first course available provides an introduction to diabetes, explaining what it is, how it works and the common warning signs and risk factors. For healthcare professionals, the IDF School of Diabetes offers a selection of free and premium online courses that help them to keep up-to-date with various aspects of diabetes management and treatment.

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