Nearly a third of people with diabetes hide their condition and can miss insulin injections or delay testing, a survey by Diabetes UK suggests.
In the poll of 4,000 diabetics to mark Diabetes Week, some 34% said they keep their illness under wraps, or have done so at some stage.
With 2.8 million people who have the condition in the UK, it means that almost one million people could be covering up their illness.
Many of these miss insulin injections or delay testing their blood glucose levels to avoid drawing attention to themselves.
The survey found that younger people were more likely to keep diabetes a secret, with 48% of those aged 17 to 21 saying they had done so.
Almost half (49%) of all age groups said not talking about diabetes had affected how they manage their condition, while 39% said it had affected their physical health or their emotions.
Of those who kept their diabetes a secret, they were more likely to do so at work (59%) but more than half (56%) also kept it a secret from their friends.
Reasons included not wanting diabetes to affect employment and worrying that others think the condition is always the result of an unhealthy diet.
Baroness Barbara Young, chief executive at Diabetes UK, said: “It is hugely concerning that the health and well-being of so many people could be at risk as a result of discrimination or prejudice.”
Don’t forget! This week all our diabetes subscriber content is FREE to celebrate Diabetes Week 2011!