Diabetes is a devastating disease that impacts millions of Americans. It, unfortunately, heavily impacts the African American community at a rate that is hard to ignore. Just why is diabetes so prevalent in this community, and is there anything that can be done to address this problem? Fully understanding this issue and its scope can help this community fight back against worsening diabetes cases.
Why Black People Are at Higher Risk for Diabetes
The reasons why African Americans are at a higher risk for this disease include a complex interplay between various socioeconomic factors. These influences can vary depending on which sector of the community is affected but are consistent throughout many parts of the nation.
Factors Contributing to a Higher Incidence of Diabetes in African Americans
In a study on diabetes, it was found that African American individuals had a significantly higher risk of diabetes than white people, at a rate of about 66 more cases per 1,000 people. This study examined how biological and socioeconomic factors influenced this risk, as well as psychosocial concerns. The many factors that influenced this problem included:
- Obesity – The study leader stated that obesity was “driving” the higher risk in black people. They were surprised by this result because, over the last 20 years, there was a “narrative” that something else was at play besides obesity. However, the study found that this was not the case.
- Poverty – Poorer neighborhoods often have less access to healthy and high-quality foods, and fast food restaurants are far more common in African American communities than elsewhere. This can lead to excessive processed food that leads to dangerous weight gain.
- Health Care Accessibility – In this study, it was also found that African American communities were often poorly served by healthcare facilities. This often leads to slow diagnosis times and a lack of resources for people who did develop diabetes.
What Percentage of African Americans Have Diabetes?
The American Diabetes Association or ADA reported that the percentage of non-Hispanic African Americans with diabetes was 11.7 percent. That’s nearly double the rates in non-Hispanic white individuals.
Furthermore, African Americans were at a higher risk of more severe diabetes complications. These included a 46 percent higher rate of diabetic retinopathy and a 2.6 times higher rate of end-stage renal disease caused by diabetes.
Why is Type 2 Diabetes More Common in African Americans?
Type 2 diabetes is more common in African Americans because of a higher rate of obesity among this population. Type 2 is primarily triggered by obesity and the APA reports that the African American community includes a 48 percent obesity rate compared to 32.6 percent among white people. That higher obesity risk makes this condition far more likely to develop.
What is Diabetes?
Diabetes is defined as a chronic health condition that impacts your pancreas and how it operates. Your pancreas creates insulin to break down the sugar or glucose you ingest when eating carbohydrate foods. The pancreas in a person with diabetes no longer produces insulin or produces it at a much lower level. This causes a dangerous increase in sugar in your blood that can damage your body. Just a few things caused by diabetes include:
- Heart disease, including a higher risk of strokes
- Loss of vision or complete blindness
- Kidney disease or kidney failure
- Neuropathy or dead tissue in your extremities
These health problems develop slowly and can be either significantly decreased or stopped with diabetes treatment. Catching early symptoms of diabetes is also important because it can help those in the African American community know when they need care or special attention.
Common Symptoms of Diabetes
There are many symptoms that may indicate diabetes. These can vary heavily depending on the person and the severity of your condition. If you or someone you love is worried about diabetes, it is essential to pay attention to symptoms like: