Diabetes 101

Published November 10, 2008

Diabetes is a chronic condition that affects approximately 246 million people worldwide, and the disease is on the march, particularly among young people.

The International Diabetes Federation predicts that by 2025, the number of people with diabetes will grow to 380 million people. In the United States alone, more than 24 million Americans are living with diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association.

Since 1995, the diabetes rate has doubled, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Research also suggests that by 2050, diabetes will affect 48.3 million people in the United States, with the largest increase occurring in minority groups, particularly African Americans who are disproportionately affected by diabetes.

Here are more numbers you should know:

  • Approximately 3.7 million (14.7 percent) African Americans age 20 or older have diabetes
  • African Americans are 1.6 times more likely to have diabetes as non-Hispanic Whites
  • 25 percent of African Americans between the ages of 65 and 74 have diabetes
  • One in four African American women over 55 years of age has diabetes

Types of Diabetes
There are two types of diabetes. Here's the difference.

  • Type 1 Diabetes: Type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed in children and young adults, and was previously known as juvenile diabetes. With this type of diabetes, the body does not produce insulin, which usually leads to children with this type of diabetes being required to take medication the rest of their lives.
  • Type 2 Diabetes: Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes and is usually diagnosed in older adults. With this type of diabetes, either the body does not produce enough insulin or the cells in your body do not properly use the insulin that is produced. This type of diabetes can be minimized with a combination of diet and exercise, but often requires other medical treatement to regulate.

As with Type 2 diabetes in general, many factors contribute to the development and management of the condition in the African American community, including lack of awareness or understanding of the condition, being overweight, and lack of exercise, according to the American Diabetes Association.

Diabetes Complications
Uncontrolled diabetes can lead to a number of serious and sometimes life-threatening complications, including blindness, kidney disease, loss of limbs, heart disease, stroke, and nerve damage. In fact, heart disease and stroke account for approximately 65 percent of deaths in people with diabetes.

Additionally, 60 to 70 percent of people with diabetes have mild to severe forms of nervous system damage, including impaired sensation and pain in the feet or hands.
As compared to non-Hispanic Whites, African American with diabetes suffer more complications such as blindness, kidney disease, and amputations.

  • African Americans are almost 50 percent as likely to develop diabetic retinopathy (the most common diabetic eye disease that can cause vision loss)
  • African Americans are 2.6 to 5.6 times as likely to suffer from kidney disease with more than 4,000 new cases of End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) each year
  • African Americans are nearly three times as likely to suffer from lower-limb amputations

For help, see the CDC''s National diabetes Fact Sheet: General Information and National Estimates on Diabetes or go to the American Diabetes Association's Diabetes Fact Sheet. 

Written by BET-Staff

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