Scientists pooled the results of 26 previous studies and discovered that people with the disease, which affects 250,000 Scots, were 50% to 80% more likely than non-sufferers to become physically disabled.
The previous picture was unclear, with some studies showing there was no association and others showing there was a doubling of risk.
No distinction was made between the two different forms of diabetes, type 1 and type 2, which is much more common.
However, the majority of studies involved older people over the age of 65, who are most likely to have type 2.
Disability was defined as impaired mobility and the inability to perform normal activities such as bathing, eating, shopping or using transport.
The findings are reported in the journal The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology. Dr Anna Peeters, from the Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute in Melbourne, Australia, who led the research, said: "The reasons why diabetes is associated with physical disability are still unclear, although several mechanisms have been suggested.
"It's possible that the high blood glucose concentrations experienced by people with diabetes might lead to chronic muscle inflammation, eventually resulting in physical disability, and some studies have shown that diabetes is associated with rapid and worsening muscle wasting.
"The complications associated with diabetes, such as heart disease, stroke, and kidney disease, can all result in disability.
"As the world's population ages, and diabetes becomes more common, it seems clear that we will see an increased need for disability-related health resources, which health systems around the world need to be prepared for."