• Kapiolani Pua'auli, MA

Diabetes Type 2 is Becoming More Prevalent, Especially in Minority Communities

Now that Covid19 cases are on the decline, and vaccinations are on the rise, the pandemic is finally calming down. However, COVID is not the only pandemic we are fighting. A much bigger long-term problem is diabetes. Unfortunately, diabetes disproportionally effects minority communities. Even if you don’t have diabetes, you probably know someone who does.


Almost every minority population struggles with type 2 diabetes. Native Americans over age 20 have a 33% chance of having diabetes. Hispanics are 1.5 times more likely to die from diabetes than non-Hispanic whites.


Furthermore, these minorities often have more barriers to understanding their disease process and how to improve it. This is a large problem in my community (Asian American/Pacific Islander). In 2007, 52.3% of men and 42.4% of women 25-64 years old have type 2 diabetes in American Samoa. Not only that, in 2018 the diabetes death rate in American Samoa was 6.2 times higher than the national death rate for white americans.


I have a very close family member who is currently on dialysis from type 2 diabetes and she has had it for as long as I can remember. Her diabetes started as gestational diabetes (high blood sugars during pregnancy). It turned into type 2 diabetes due to unhealthy habits. She was a drinker, a smoker, eating all the delicious but unhealthy food, which has led her to her current situation, peritoneal dialysis.


Many people are genetically pre-disposed to diabetes type 2. However, the reason why diabetes is rising so quickly is because we live unhealthy lives. The food we eat is rich and processed. Most people eat way too much junk and not nearly enough vegetables and fruits. We are sedentary and do not exercise enough. Many of us carry far too much stress with us. Finally, the increasing number of harmful chemicals in our water, soil, air, and food may also be contributing.


Below are some tips to help manage diabetes. With aggressive lifestyle changes, diabetes will improve and can sometimes go away entirely.


· Take your medications

· Stay active! Don’t let diabetes keep you down! Exercise is the key to a healthy metabolism.

· Healthy diet (Make fruits and vegetables the cornerstone of your diet. Try and limit fried foods, sweets, fatty meats, and high calorie processed foods!)

· Relax! Keep your blood pressure within normal limits


It is always easier to drive to McDonalds than it is to make a healthy meal at home. But long term, McDonalds will kill you. Our society prioritizes disease treatment by paying big money for it. However, there is no incentive to prevent disease. I can tell you from experience, the best way to deal with diabetes is to prevent it entirely.




References


https://www.minorityhealth.hhs.gov/omh/browse.aspx?lvl=4&lvlid=78#:~:text=In%202018%2C%20Native%20Hawaiians%2FPacific,surveyed%20Pacific%20Islander%20sub%2Dpopulations.


https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC188499/


https://clinical.diabetesjournals.org/content/30/3/130#:~:text=4.9%20million%20African%2DAmerican%20adults,among%20non%2DHispanic%20white%20Americans.




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