An international study coordinated by scientists at Birmingham University could change the way diabetics selfmedicate in future.
Patients with type 2 diabetes, whose blood sugar was not being successfully controlled with oral antidiabetic medication, were three times more likely to opt for an insulin inhaler.
The findings, published by Diabetes Care, may help patients who take that option to move on to insulin therapy on medical advice.
Questionnaires were filled in by 779 patients with type 2 diabetes in seven countries. Some were only told about current treatments available while others were given advice on those and the insulin inhaler.
More than four out of ten (43.2 per cent) who were offered insulin as an alternative treatment opted to take it, compared to just 15.5 per cent who were only offered standard therapy.
This preference was most marked in patients who took three or more OADs - they had most difficulty in controlling their blood sugar and were in highest need of insulin.
Professor Nick Freemantle, who led the study at Birmingham University, said: "Patient acceptance of insulin is a major challenge in the management of type 2 diabetes.
"They need good glycemic control to avoid serious complications, but often are unwilling to inject insulin.
"This study suggests if patients were given the option of inhaled insulin, they would be more likely to embrace insulin therapy. It could also improve health outcomes and reduce the burden of diabetes complications."
Patients often resist insulin treatments, although they are widely recommended by doctors.
Previous studies have shown that controlling blood sugar through insulin helps achieve better glycemic control and reduces the risk of life-threatening complications, including blindness and amputation.