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African Americans And Diabetes


According to the National Diabetes Education Program, there is a current epidemic of diabetes among African Americans. African Americans are one of the largest groups in the population in the United States that are contracting Type II diabetes. In addition, diabetes is also one of the leading causes of death and disability among African Americans in the United States.

There are certain factors that are believed to cause Type II diabetes, which accounts for nearly 95 percent of all cases of the disease. The causes are generally someone with a close relative with the disease, being an African American or being overweight. Other factors include having high blood pressure, high cholesterol and having gestational diabetes while pregnant. It is estimated that about 3.2 million African Americans have Type II diabetes and about one third of them are undiagnosed.

No one is quite sure why African Americans are more likely to get Type II diabetes than any other ethnic group. One thing is certain, however. Poor African Americans are more likely to die from complications of the disease than those in other ethnic groups. This is most likely due to poor health care in certain communities, limited access to medicine that can potentially save their lives and less education. Affluent African Americans have the same chance as other ethnic groups of dying from complications of the disease.

Many people who live in poor communities, in addition to receiving substandard medical care, little education about disease and limited access to lifesaving medicine, also are inundated with fast food restaurants that seem to target certain ethnic groups. Fast foods are usually very high in carbohydrates, fats and offer very little in nutrition. They are inexpensive, however, and many people with little money find this to be the only way they can feed their family on a limited budget. Unfortunately, most of the foods found in fast food restaurants, particularly French fries, are at the top of the Glycemic Index when it comes to foods that should not be consumed by diabetics. French fries are pretty much the staple of any fast food restaurant. They are high in carbohydrates, high in fat and low in protein. But they are filling.

African Americans can prevent acquiring Type II diabetes in many different ways. One way is to take a look at the Glycemic Index and realize which foods are harmful to them and which to avoid. Another way is to start an exercise regime and, if they are overweight, lose some of those excess pounds. If they are without health care, they should contact their local municipality about screening tests for diabetes. Many clinics and health care facilities offer screening tests for diabetes for those with low income for free. This small step may end up saving the life of someone who is on the verge of getting this potentially life threatening illness.

African Americans can also start saying no to fast foods that, in addition to being precursors for diabetes, are also linked to heart disease, high cholesterol and even cancer. Many fast food restaurants prey on people in low income areas without regard for the health of those individuals. African Americans need to realize that they are experiencing an epidemic of Type II diabetes in their community and do all that they can to stamp it out.

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