When someone says they have diabetes, a certain image comes to mind. Perhaps, it’s of a middle-aged, slightly overweight, brown-skinned man or woman. The truth is, you can have high blood sugar, even if you don’t fall into the category of being in an ethnic group and even if you’re slim.
Have you ever wondered how race correlates to diabetes? According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), minority groups such as African Americans, Hispanics, and American Indians are at higher risk for Type 2 diabetes than their white counterparts. As our team at DiaM Life discussed the myths of the various types of diabetes, we briefly pondered over whether race or ethnicity truly plays a factor in someone's diagnosis of the condition.
Many of us are already aware of the significant role a healthy diet, active lifestyle, and careful monitoring of blood glucose controls plays in the life of someone managing diabetes. However, there's no roadmap to prevention and there is no one size or one age fits all. The fact is, although Type 1 diabetes is common among children, people can be diagnosed with it in adulthood. Type 2 diabetes may look like a large black woman with a penchant for fast food, but the condition can also be hereditary in a white woman’s family. For women diagnosed with gestational diabetes, yes, it can go away after pregnancy. Gestational diabetes does not always automatically lead to Type 2 diabetes.
The ADA currently shows that 14.7% of American Indians have diabetes, but when it comes to the condition, there’s often a stigma to how diabetes looks. Some factors in why ethnic groups are largely affected by diabetes include economic burden and being uninsured. African Americans in particular, tend to have lower potassium levels, which is a contributing factor in developing diabetes. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people of Puerto Rican heritage are twice as likely to develop Type 2 diabetes, opposed to someone with a South American background.
The CDC’s research also shows that nationwide, one out of two Asian Americans do not know they have diabetes. This can be shocking as most Asian Americans don’t have what people consider the “look” of diabetes. The simple truth is diabetes does not wear an outfit with tanned skin and obesity. The more we educate ourselves and others, we can help dispel the myth of what diabetes looks like because it doesn’t have a look. If anything, this condition can teach us that having knowledge is true power.