Skip to content

Diabetes Health Center

Font Size

Diabetes Patients: Shoe Snafu

Study: Most Diabetes Patients Wear Ill-Fitting Shoes, Which May Worsen Diabetes Foot Problems
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Nov. 14, 2007 -- If you have diabetes, your shoe wardrobe may need a makeover -- and we're talking shoe size, not footwear fashion.

Only one in three adults with diabetes wears shoes that fit properly, a new British study shows.

The researchers measured the feet and shoes of 100 adults with diabetes at a diabetes clinic.

The patients got their feet measured while sitting and standing, because when people stand, their feet broaden and lengthen a bit.

The results: 24% had the right size shoe while seated, 20% while standing, and only 17% had the right shoe size while sitting and standing.

Their shoes tended to be too short and too narrow for their feet.

The patients also admitted that they don't check their feet often (or in some cases, ever), note the University of Dundee's Graham Leese, MD, and colleagues.

(When was the last time you had your feet measured for shoes? Is there a brand that works best for you? Talk about it with others on WebMD's Type 2 Diabetes Support Group board.)

Diabetes and Feet

Uncontrolled diabetes can lead to nerve damage in the feet. Diabetes patients should check their feet daily, notes the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK).

In Leese's study, 7% of the patients had diabetic foot ulcers and 20% had sensory nerve problems in their feet.

But all patients -- including those with no foot problems -- tended to have poorly fitting shoes. The reasons why aren't clear.

Some may not have known their true shoe size. Others may have settled for the wrong shoe width to get the right shoe length, or vice versa. And fashion may have motivated others.

A related editorial includes these suggestions:

  • Diabetes patients: Get your shoe size checked.
  • Diabetes doctors: Talk to patients about footwear as part of diabetes foot care.
  • Shoe sellers: Step up shoe-sizing service and note the market for wider shoes.

Andrea Parnes, BSc, a podiatrist at the University of Ulster in Belfast, Northern Ireland, wrote the editorial, which appears with Leese's study in the International Journal of Clinical Practice.

Is This Normal? Get the Facts Fast!

Check Your Blood Sugar Level Now
What type of diabetes do you have?
Your gender:

Get the latest Diabetes newsletter delivered to your inbox!


Your level is currently

If the level is below 70 or you are experiencing symptoms such as shaking, sweating or difficulty thinking, you will need to raise the number immediately. A quick solution is to eat a few pieces of hard candy or 1 tablespoon of sugar or honey. Recheck your numbers again in 15 minutes to see if the number has gone up. If not, repeat the steps above or call your doctor.

People who experience hypoglycemia several times in a week should call their health care provider. It's important to monitor your levels each day so you can make sure your numbers are within the range. If you are pregnant always consult with your health care provider.

Congratulations on taking steps to manage your health.

However, it's important to continue to track your numbers so that you can make lifestyle changes if needed. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

Your level is high if this reading was taken before eating. Aim for 70-130 before meals and less than 180 two hours after meals.

Even if your number is high, it's not too late for you to take control of your health and lower your blood sugar.

One of the first steps is to monitor your levels each day. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

Did You Know Your Lifestyle Choices
Affect Your Blood Sugar?

Use the Blood Glucose Tracker to monitor
how well you manage your blood sugar over time.

Get Started

This tool is not intended for women who are pregnant.

Start Over

Step:  of 

Today on WebMD

Diabetic tools
Symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, and more.
woman flexing muscles
10 strength training exercises.
Blood sugar test
12 practical tips.
Tom Hanks
Stars living with type 1 or type 2.
kenneth fujioka, md
Can Vinegar Treat Diabetes
Middle aged person
Home Healthcare

Prediabetes How to Prevent Type 2 Diabetes
type 2 diabetes
food fitness planner