Diabetes? No Problema! (Continued)

Your risk for developing diabetes is higher than average

Unfortunately all Latinos share an increased incidence of diabetes regardless of ethnic mix. We Latinos are second only to Native Americans in having the highest incidence of diabetes in the United States, and we get it at earlier ages than other populations. Among Puerto Ricans and Mexican Americans, the age of onset is thirty to fifty years. More than 10 percent of all Mexican Americans twenty or older have diabetes, which is almost twice the rate of non-Hispanic whites of a similar age. Cuban Americans have a slightly lower rate of diabetes than Mexican Americans and Puerto Ricans, but still higher than non-Hispanic whites. Thus health concerns like diabetes in Latino communities can have serious and wide-reaching implications for the national health care system and America's collective health, not to mention the health of any of your relatives living south of the United States in your family's native country.

Why is your diabetes risk higher if you're Latino? It may have to do with the genes you inherited, but obviously there are other factors (e.g., lifestyle choices) that may be equally, if not more, important in the disease's development. Fortunately, we now know that type 2 diabetes is largely preventable even if you have a higher risk due to your ethnicity, as demonstrated by a study of over 3,200 people concluded in 2003. All of the individuals participating in the Diabetes Prevention Program had prediabetes and were at high risk of developing the disease. At least 15 percent were Latinos, and the results showed that lifestyle choices—diet, exercise, and body weight—can make it possible to delay or prevent diabetes onset in two out of every three Hispanic individuals, more than when all ethnic groups were included. From this study alone you can conclude that while being Latino may increase your risk of getting diabetes, the lifestyle choices that you make likely will have a greater effect.

What can happen if you don't control your diabetes?
Although it's not fun to think about, we think you should be aware of the harm that diabetes can do. Ignoring your diabetes care and claiming ignorance about its possible consequences is not the way to go with this disease. Why? Because diabetes worldwide causes more than 3.2 million deaths per year, or six deaths every minute, and probably more. The leading cause of death in all Americans is heart disease, whether or not you have diabetes. As Latinos, however, we have a higher risk of developing and dying from diabetes, and we're also twice as likely as other populations to experience complications such as heart disease, high blood pressure, blindness, kidney disease, amputations, and nerve damage. This insidious disease is the sixth leading cause of death in Latino communities and the fourth leading cause of death among Latino women and seniors.

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Last Modified Date: July 01, 2013

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by Carey Potash
Charlie’s 12-year anniversary with type 1 just passed and I still know nothing about this diabetes and why it hates us so much. As if to remind us that it was its anniversary, diabetes unleashed hell on Friday. Charlie was stranded well over 400 for hours and even tipped the scale at 580. Susanne pulled Charlie out of school and started what became a wartime exercise in futility. It was one of the worst blood sugar days we’ve had in years. ...