Diabetics are "extremely open" about their disease: SG poll

March 23, 2012

A SupermarketGuru survey suggests that a majority of diabetic shoppers are ready and willing to share about their condition, which could mean they find value in their supermarket's involvement in raising awareness, and would be interested in special programs in the store.

According to data from the 2011 National Diabetes Fact Sheet (American Diabetes Association), 25.8 million children and adults in the United States have diabetes. That's 8.3% of the population. In 2010, 1.9 million new cases of diabetes were diagnosed in people aged 20 years and older. And another shocking figure found in this fact sheet is that the cost of diabetes in the United States in 2007 was estimated to be $18 billion dollars!

Some supermarkets and drug stores have created programs to show support for their diabetic customers, offering things like free screenings and consultations. The Lempert Report applauds these important initiatives retailers are taking in order to raise awareness and assist their communities in tackling this disease.

To gain more perspective on feelings and attitudes of diabetic customers, and their willingness to be open about their disease, we conducted an exclusive SupermarketGuru quick poll to find out more. Seventy-four percent of this panel has diabetes or lives with someone that has diabetes. Here's what we found.

Forty-four percent are "extremely open" about their disease and say most people in their lives know they have diabetes. Only nine percent say that they are "not at all" open, and only a few people know about their disease. Here's WHO they have told:

• 59% have told family members
• 51% have told close friends
• 28% have told everyone
• 25% have told casual friends
• 51% have told close friends
• 22% have told co-workers
• 19% have told their employer
• 9% have told a diabetes support group
• 5% have told people they date

We asked those on our panel with diabetes to tell us why that haven’t told certain people in their lives. Twenty-four percent say it “hasn’t come up,” and 22% feel like it is irrelevant to their relationship. Twenty-one percent feel like it’s “none of their business.” Only four percent say that they are embarrassed by their disease.

When asked why they HAVE told certain people, we found that 42% want to make sure people around them can recognize the symptoms of low blood sugar and help prevent emergencies. Thiry-seven percent say they are interested in sharing information, resources and experiences about diabetes. And another 20% say they tell certain people, so they can have their emotional support.

So what can retailers learn from this panel? The results of this poll suggest that most shoppers are not hiding their condition or feeling ashamed, and actually want to talk about it, raise awareness, and share information. And the supermarket environment couldn’t be a more fitting place to offer support and guidance for diabetics. After all, it’s the place where they purchase their food, and diet could be the most important factor in controlling their condition.