Diabetes in the Black Community
Updated: Feb 7
What is Diabetes?
To fully understand what Diabetes is, we need to take a walk down memory lane to science class and understand the fundamentals of Glucose and Insulin. Glucose, also known as sugar, is needed for providing energy to your cells and Insulin aids this process by helping Glucose get into your cells, so that it can provide energy.
When you have Diabetes your body doesn’t properly break down the Glucose in your food, because your body is either not producing enough Insulin or doesn’t respond effectively to it. There are two types of Diabetes, Type 1 and Type 2 – Type 1 Diabetes is when your body does not produce Insulin at all, so it is usually injected into the body. Type 2 Diabetes is when your body doesn’t respond to Insulin, meaning too much sugar stays in your blood and can lead to other health complications, such as Heart Disease (see article on Heart Disease) (Link).
What is the impact to Black People?
In the UK, Black people are up to 3 times more likely to develop Type 2 Diabetes than White people (Link). In America, African Americans are 60% more likely to be diagnosed with Diabetes, than White people. In 2017, African Americans were twice as likely to die from Diabetes than White people (Link). Furthermore, Diabetes within the Black community is also more dangerous, often leading to serious complications, such as loss of vision, limbs and Kidney failure (Link).
Whilst there is some evidence to suggest that Black people are more genetically prone to diabetes, more often than not, Scientists believe that the prevalence of Diabetes in the Black community is more to do with socioeconomic circumstances (Link) and biological factors such as weight and fatty tissue (Link).
What can we do?
There are few tells that you should be aware of (below) if you are concerned about Diabetes (Link) – as soon as you notice any of these symptoms, make an appointment with your GP.
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And we should not forget that we do have some influence over our bodies! Being mindful of what we eat, monitoring our blood sugar levels and loosing excess weight are things we can do to help our bodies. But here are a few lifestyle tips to help prevent Diabetes (link):
Eat a balanced diet
Maintain a healthy weight and exercise
Stop smoking and drink in moderation