Diabetes is one of the most serious health challenges in the United States. The American Diabetes Association reports that about 29 million Americans have diabetes, plus at least 8 million who are undiagnosed. What's more, there are an estimated 86 million people with pre-diabetes, which puts people at risk for diabetes.
Of the 29 million Americans, about 2.8 million are blacks. This means that about 13.2 percent of all blacks in the U.S. have diabetes. In comparison to white Americans of similar age, blacks are twice as likely to have diabetes. Hispanic Americans and American Indians/Alaskan Natives are the other race/ethnic groups with high rates of diabetes of 12.8 percent and 15.9 percent respectively.
In comparison with white Americans, the diabetes statistics for blacks show a greater risk for complications and disability. Complications from diabetes can result from a number of influencing factors that include high blood sugar levels, high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels and cigarette smoking.
A black with diabetes has twice the rate of heart disease and four times more occurrence of kidney failure. Diabetic blacks have 40-50 percent higher risk of eye disease (diabetic retinopathy) and a higher rate of amputation with greater disability. The death rate for blacks with diabetic complications is 27 percent higher than the general population.
Research shows a correlation between diabetes and being overweight and inactive. Obesity is a major factor for diabetes; blacks have a much higher rate of being overweight. Even the location of the excess weight may play a part in the risk of having diabetes. Excess weight carried above the waist is a stronger risk factor than weight carried below the waist. Also, lack of exercise is a risk factor for developing diabetes. A nationwide survey indicated that 50 percent of black men and 67 percent of black women reported no or little activity.
While diabetes and pre-diabetes are serious conditions, they can be prevented or delayed with weight loss and regular physical activity.
There is no such thing as borderline diabetes. Instead, the term pre-diabetes is used when the blood sugar is higher than normal but not quite high enough to be considered diabetes.
Once diagnosed, diabetes self-care management is very important. This includes regular doctor visits, as well as education with a certified diabetes educator.
An accredited diabetes class will include on topics on understanding diabetes, diagnosis, complications, foot care, standards of care and the four M's of diabetes care:
1) Meal planning, including portion control, counting carbohydrates, and watching fat intake;
2) Movement, doing a minimum of 150 minutes of activity per week;
3) Medication, following doctor's orders on medications;
4) Monitoring your blood sugar through daily blood sugar testing and quarterly lab work.