More Than 30 Million African Americans Are Diabetic

Diabetes affects millions of people in the black community

By: Taren Vaughan

Diabetes is one of the most prevalent diseases amongst the American population. Just like various forms of cancer, diabetes can affect how specific organs of the body function, especially the kidneys. There are numerous Caucasian Americans that suffer from the disease. But it is African Americans who account for a large portion of the diabetic population.

Dating back to the early 1960’s, diabetes has been an issue in the black community. During this time period up to 1990, National Health Interview Surveys were conducted, revealing the numbers of African Americans that were affected by the potentially harmful disease. The surveys found that the majority of African Americans with diabetes had Type II diabetes. Type II diabetes is known as the noninsulin-dependent diabetes. This form of diabetes is more likely to develop later on in one’s adult life.

Juvenile diabetes, another name for Type I diabetes, is insulin dependent. It is a condition where a person’s body is unable to produce sufficient amounts of insulin, a hormone secreted by the pancreas. Because of their inadequate levels of insulin, Type I diabetics have to administer insulin shots into their bodies to keep their sugar levels normal. Type I diabetes is not as prevalent as Type II diabetes and it normally develops during the younger stages of our lives.

So is one particular form of the disease better to have than the other?

There is a big misconception that having Type II diabetes is supposedly “better” to have than Type I diabetes. No matter how you look at it, both forms of diabetes can cause major health problems. And even though having Type II diabetes does not require a person to take insulin shots, they still have to be on oral medication. In reference to Type II diabetes, there are ways that it can be prevented. Similar to obesity prevention, watching the food that we eat is essential to protecting yourself from inheriting Type II diabetes. Foods high in sugar should be consumed at a minimum. This is not to say that you should never enjoy a slice of cake or an ice cream cone every now and then. But they should not be included in every three course meal that we prepare. Sometimes, acquiring diabetes can seem inevitable, especially if you have a family history of the disease. In this case, you should do everything you can to prevent yourself from developing the condition.

Diabetes, if not monitored, can be very dangerous to your health. Kidney failure, loss of vision and limb amputations can result from having advanced diabetes. If you are diabetic, be sure to keep a close eye on your sugar levels and take all proper medications prescribed by your physician. If you are not diabetic, continue to eat healthy, exercise and do not overload on sugary foods. Remember, you are not immune to this disease as the numbers are steadily increasing on a year to year basis.

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