Association of Diabetes Care & Education Specialists

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Person with Diabetes

Jun 08, 2016


o you still refer to your patients with diabetes as diabetic? Every January the American Diabetes Association revises their Standards of Medical Care. One of the first updates to the report is the statement, "the word 'diabetic' will no longer be used when referring to individuals with diabetes in the Standards of Medical Care in Diabetes. The ADA will continue to use the term 'diabetic' as an adjective for complications related to diabetes (e.g., diabetic retinopathy).”

As educators we need to set the standard and be consistent with our wording and it will become the norm.

The topic of calling a person with diabetes “diabetic” has been debated for years. Some people with diabetes want to be called diabetic, while others feel that we do not say "canceretic" or a version of that word when referring to someone with cancer. So why do why do we say diabetic? Some people with diabetes do not want that label to define them. While it may be faster to say “diabetic” than “person with diabetes,” as educators we need to set the standard and be consistent with our wording and it will become the norm.

I found this cute article from A Sweet Life called “Don’t Call My Kid a Diabetic."I was really touched by the article how her daughter was sharing with another newly diagnosed child all the activities she does. The mother of the newly diagnosed child was amazed that someone with type 1 diabetes could be as active as someone without diabetes. Although diabetes was a big part of her life, it did not define her.

Now is a good time to check your educational slides, handouts, manuals, etc to make sure they are up to date with the latest recommendation and remove the "diabetic" label and replace it with "person with diabetes."

Amy Campbell

About the Author

Amy Campbell is a dietitian and certified diabetes educator. She currently works in public health in Lexington, Kentucky and has been working in diabetes for over seven years.

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