What is it and causes it?
Diabetes mellitus, often just called diabetes, is a condition that happens when glucose levels in the blood are too high. Glucose is found in foods and is stored in our liver, fat, and muscle cells. The pancreas produces a hormone called insulin which removes glucose from the blood and stores it in our cells. When the pancreas doesn’t produce enough insulin, or the insulin doesn’t work properly, then blood glucose levels begin to increase and may cause the condition known as diabetes. There are two types of diabetes: Type 1 and Type 2.
Types of Diabetes
Type of Diabetes
• Type 1 diabetes, also known as juvenile diabetes, is associated with early childhood or young adults.
• It is characterized by the body’s inability to make insulin or make enough insulin.
• Individuals with this type of diabetes are usually insulin dependent, meaning that they must regularly take insulin to stay healthy. This condition is referred to as insulin dependent diabetes mellitus, or IDDM.
• Type 1 diabetes is more prevalent in white people.
Type of Diabetes
• Type 2 diabetes, also known as adult-onset diabetes, can affect all age groups.
• This type of diabetes is more often seen in adults, people living with obesity, and people who are physically inactive.
• It is caused by insulin becoming less effective at removing glucose from the blood, or by the pancreas producing less insulin.
• Most individuals diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes use diabetes medications to help manage and control the condition.
• Black people are more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes than white people.
Who is affected?
Annually in the United States there are at least a half a million new cases of type 2 diabetes diagnosed among older adults and minority groups are at higher risk for being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes mellitus as compared to Caucasians.
At least 2.8% of the United States population is unaware that they have diabetes, and this number is higher in minority populations.
Unfortunately, those who are not aware that they have diabetes are more likely to suffer from the acute and chronic diseases that result from poor diabetes management or uncontrolled diabetes.
Diabetes is becoming an epidemic in the United States with the number of diagnosed and undiagnosed cases increasing among those aged 20 and older.
African Americans and Diabetes
• In 2018, non-Hispanic blacks were twice as likely as non-Hispanic whites to die from diabetes.
• African American adults are 60% more likely than non-Hispanic white adults to be diagnosed with diabetes.
• The increased prevalence of Type 2 diabetes among African Americans may extend to children and adolescents.
• African Americans are disproportionately affected by diabetes and bear the burden of the morbidity and mortality associated with diabetes.
Women and Diabetes
Although diabetes affects all genders, ethnic groups, and economic classes, specific groups within these demographics are at a higher risk for developing diabetes. Of the millions of adults affected by diabetes, 50% are women. Heart disease occurs more frequently in women than men and is one of the most life-threatening complications of diabetes. This means that women with diabetes are more likely to have a heart attack than men with diabetes, and a heart attack may occur at an earlier age than in women without diabetes.
African American Women and Diabetes
Diabetes is more prevalent in African American women and is deeply rooted in culture and perceptions of health and beauty. Historical and socio-cultural factors are just two reasons for the overwhelming number of black women diagnosed with diabetes.
One factor of the high diabetes risk in African American women is that more women in this ethnic group have a BMI score that puts them in the obese category.