It’s a black thing?
Some have asked why I am writing a blog called “Diabetes While Black”. “Diabetes is color-blind!”, some have exclaimed.
Well, I’m not so sure about that.
According to the Center for Disease Control, 29 million Americans have diabetes and 86 million have Prediabetes. Of that number, the American Diabetes Association reported that 4.9 million African American adults or 18.7% of all African Americans over the age of 20 have diagnosed or undiagnosed diabetes as compared to 7.1% of non-Hispanic white Americans. That means that the risk of diabetes is 77% higher among African Americans than non-Hispanic white Americans. The only group with a higher percentage of diabetes is Native Americans/Alaskan Natives.
Looks like a black or brown thing to me.
So why is this the case? Is it genetics? Diabetes certainly runs in my family. Is it lifestyle? Do we get enough exercise? Do black people sit around any more than other Americans? Is it our diet? Considering that you can’t walk 5 steps without running into somebody’s fast, processed or otherwise unhealthy food joint in America, it is unlikely that our eating habits are any different than others in our respective communities. Is it stress? Black people have a unique set of stressors—many live in areas where crime is an issue; poverty affects black people disproportionately and we all know about our community’s ongoing challenges with law enforcement and the judicial system. And don’t believe the hype, no matter what your socio-economic status, the impact of racism in America is stressful on all of us. And we love us some Obamacare, but access to quality health care remains a serious issue for many black Americans.
Its ALL of the above and more.
Type 2 diabetes is a complex and individualized disease. One size does not fit all. A treatment, remedy, medication, eating plan, exercise regimen will not deliver the same result for all people. Sex, age, race and a lot of other factors can have a major impact on how well treatment plans work–or don’t work. And while there are thousands of studies on treatment strategies and medications precious few measure how those treatments/medications work on black folks.
What’s a people to do? I have some ideas. Check in with me again next week, and we’ll talk.