Why Diabetes Is A Real Threat Among African-Americans


The number of diabetes cases has surged dramatically in the last decade. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently reported an increase in type 2 diabetes rates among teenagers and schoolchildren.

Moreover, the CDC notes diabetes is more prevalent in the African-American population, with a ratio of 22.6 cases per 100,000 people. By comparison, the diabetes ratio among Caucasians is only 4.4 cases for 100,000 individuals.

According to the American Diabetes Association, this ethnic group is "disproportionately affected" by this condition, having 1.7 more chances of contracting the disease than the non-Hispanic white population.

More than 13 percent of all African-Americans (about 1.5 million people) aged 20 years or older have been diagnosed with diabetes. In addition, statistics show another 750,000 undiagnosed cases, bringing the total of African-American people plagued by this affliction to more than 2.2 million.

Dallas Weekly states that "for every six white people who have diabetes, 10 African-Americans have the disease," making this chronic condition "one of the most serious health problems" this ethnic group is currently facing.

Diabetes Complications

Diabetes is characterized by a rise in blood sugar levels beyond normal parameters, which affects the way the body produces and metabolizes insulin. This hormone is crucial for energy production, as well as the proper function of all bodily systems.

The difference between the two forms of the condition is that, while people with type 1 diabetes have an insulin deficit, type 2 diabetes cases are linked to the faulty use of this hormone throughout the body.

The signs and symptoms of diabetes include extreme fatigue, blurred vision, slow healing of minor cuts and bruises, weight loss, lack of feeling satiated even after meals, feeling thirsty, frequent need to urinate, and pain in the hands and feet.

When a person's body can no longer regulate insulin, its systems begin to shut down, putting the person at risk of "devastating consequences." The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality lists kidney disease, blindness, coronary artery disease, and lower limb amputation as the top four diabetes complications minorities are facing.

In addition, the diabetes death rate for African-Americans is 27 percent higher compared with Caucasian diabetics.

Diabetes Outreach Programs For Minorities

Because of the seriousness of this widespread condition, as well its differentiated impact on each minority group, the ADA has designed "culturally specific" awareness programs.

The initiative dedicated to the black community is called Project POWER and aims to inform and educate the public regarding the seriousness of diabetes and its complications among African-Americans.

The project also promotes the means and tools that aid in battling this disease, with emphasis on preventive measures, early symptom detection, and a healthy lifestyle.

Project POWER offers six educational workshops organized by ADA-trained staff, who are fully instructed to guide community members in the implementation of diabetes preventive strategies.

Other similar projects developed by the ADA in an effort to help the black community combat this disease are Live Empowered and Choose to Live, the latter specifically tailored to African-American women.

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