Diabetes:Devastating Disease in People of Color

Did you know that in 2013, black Americans were twice as likely to die from diabetes as white Americans?

Did you know this devastating disease leads to more complications such as end-stage renal disease and lower limb amputations in people of color? Although diabetes has been the focus of much research, we are still unclear about why it disproportionately affects people of color. However, we do know obesity is a modifiable contributing factor.

What is diabetes?

Your body is like a complex factory and needs energy to run. It converts foods you consume or eat into an energy source called glucose (a sugar). Glucose is carried by the blood stream to the body cells. Insulin, a hormone released by an organ called the pancreas is necessary for cells to uptake glucose. Diabetes develops when the body doesn’t make enough insulin or is not able to use insulin effectively, or both. As a result, glucose builds up in the blood instead of being absorbed by body cells . There are three main types of diabetes, Type 1, Type 2 and gestational:

Types of Diabetes
Type 2 Most common type Usually occurs in adults Can be prevented or delayed
Type 1 Usually occurs in children, young adults No known prevention
Gestational Occurs during pregnancy Usually resolves after pregnancy Increases risk for type 2 diabetes

What are the signs and symptoms of diabetes?

What are the risk factors for Type 2 diabetes?

What can I do to reduce my chance of developing Type 2 diabetes?

  1. Prediabetes is when the amount of glucose in your blood is above normal yet not high enough to be called diabetes.
  2. With prediabetes your chance of getting type 2 diabetes, heart disease of stroke are higher.
  3. With some weight loss and moderate physical activity you can delay or prevent type 2 diabetes.

A major research study, the Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP), proved that people with prediabetes were able to sharply reduce their risk of developing diabetes during the study by losing 5 to 7 percent of their body weight through dietary changes and increased physical activity. Study participants followed a low-fat, low-calorie diet and engaged in regular physical activity, such as walking briskly five times a week for 30 minutes. These strategies worked well for both men and women in all racial and ethnic groups, but were especially effective for participants age 60 and older. A follow-up study, the Diabetes Prevention Program Outcomes Study (DPPOS), showed losing weight and being physically active provide lasting results. Ten years after the DPP, modest weight loss delayed onset of type 2 diabetes by an average of 4 years.

You can prevent Type 2 diabetes:

  1. Take the prediabetes risk quiz Prediabetes Risk Quiz
  2. See your doctor or visit a health clinic or fair to get your blood glucose tested
  3. Join a Centers for Disease Control recognized Diabetes Prevention Program Diabetes Prevention Programs
  4. Eat healthy Prevent Type 2 Diabetes
  5. Be more active
  6. Loose weight


Diabetes and African Americans
Centers for Disease Control Diabetes Prevention
Ten Ways African Americans Can Prevent Type 2 Diabetes, National Diabetes Education Program
Your Guide to Diabetes: Type I and Type 2

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Last updated: 16-April-2016
Webmaster: Suzanne Pearson
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