Wellness Wisdom: Diabetes Awareness

November 1, 2017

World Diabetes DayDiabetes is the condition in which the body does not properly process food for energy use. Most of the food we eat is turned into glucose, or sugar, for our bodies to use for energy. The pancreas, an organ that lies near the stomach, produces a hormone called insulin to help glucose get into the cells of our bodies. When someone has diabetes, the body either doesn’t make enough insulin or can’t use its own insulin as well as it should. This causes sugars to build up in the blood. Therefore, many people refer to diabetes as “sugar.” Diabetes can cause serious health complications including heart disease, blindness, kidney failure, and lower-extremity amputations making it the seventh leading cause of death in the United States.

How prevalent is diabetes among black people?

  • Black people are 1.7 times as likely to develop diabetes as whites
  • The prevalence of diabetes among black people has QUADRUPLED in the past 30 years
  • Among black people, about 2.3 million have diabetes –10.8 percent are 20 years of age and older
  • Black people with diabetes are more likely than non-Hispanic and whites to develop diabetes and to experience greater disability from diabetes-related complications such as amputations, adult blindness, kidney failure, and increased risk of heart disease and stroke
  • Death rates for blacks with diabetes are 27 percent higher than for white

Type 2 diabetes may account for about 90 percent to 95 percent of all diagnosed cases of diabetes. Risk factors for Type 2 diabetes includes older age, obesity, family history of diabetes, prior history of gestational diabetes, impaired glucose tolerance, physical inactivity, and race/ethnicity. African Americans, Hispanic/Latino Americans, American Indians, and some Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are at particularly elevated risk for Type 2 diabetes.

Treatment typically includes diet control, exercise, home blood glucose testing, and in some cases, oral medication and/or insulin. Approximately 40 percent of people with Type 2 diabetes require insulin injections. Many studies have shown that regular physical activity can significantly reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is also associated with obesity.