Contemporary management of diabetes places heavy emphasis on control, particularly control of blood sugars and of food consumption. Interviews with people living with diabetes type 2 show how identity and social relationships are negotiated through what is often a contradictory language of control, surveillance, discipline and responsibility. People frequently discuss diabetes-related behaviour in terms that position themselves or others as disobedient children, or as wicked or foolish adults. These references occur alongside appraisals of the physical and social complexity of "compliance" with diabetic regimes and in some instances the difficulty of achieving effective control over blood sugar levels. Efforts to protect themselves from the stigmatising potential of diabetes may inadvertently undermine the agency of people who are already coping with a demanding discipline and a potentially disabling or life-threatening disease.