Type 2 Diabetes in African-American and Hispanic/Latino Communities

Type 2 diabetes is a significant concern among the African-American and Hispanic/Latino communities. Both African-American and Hispanic/Latino adults are at a higher risk for developing type 2 diabetes than other ethnic groups, and it is the fifth leading cause of death among both populations.

Currently, 13% of all African-American adults have been diagnosed with diabetes, and this community is more likely than other ethnic groups to experience serious long-term health problems over time from the disease. Hispanic/Latino adults in the United States are nearly twice as likely to be diagnosed with diabetes as non-Hispanic white adults, and nearly 13% are currently diagnosed with the disease. That’s why it is especially important that both African Americans and Hispanics/Latinos with diabetes know the risks of high and low blood glucose and work with their doctor to set and reach their A1C goal.

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  • I’m S. Epatha Merkerson. You may know me from my television or theatre roles, but what you may not know is that I’m part of the roughly 13% of all African-American adults who have been diagnosed with diabetes.

    Thirteen years ago, I got an important wake-up call. At the time, I wasn’t at my healthiest. I’d put on a lot of weight and wasn’t exercising or paying attention to my diet. At a health fair event I had my blood glucose tested. They told me that my blood glucose levels were very high, and I should schedule an appointment with my doctor right away.

    I saw my doctor and, sure enough, I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. That was all I needed to hear to get serious about my health. In addition to me, one of my brothers has the condition and my father and grandmother died from complications of diabetes, so I know first-hand how it changes your life. That’s why it’s so important to know your A1C (average blood glucose level over the past 2-3 months) and work with your doctor to set and achieve an A1C goal by developing your own personalized diabetes management plan.

    To keep track of my blood glucose levels, I make sure to check my blood glucose twice a day and get my A1C checked every three months when I see my doctor to make sure my plan is still working for me. I keep a log of my weekly progress and make regular appointments with my doctor to help keep on top of my eating habits, exercise routine and medicines.

    As part of America’s Diabetes Challenge, I’m excited to share my story with you and encourage others to do the same.

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    I’m honored to share my story with you about the impact type 2 diabetes has had on my life. After living with type 2 diabetes for many years, my grandfather passed away from a stroke, one of the serious complications of the disease. Throughout the course of his disease, my grandmother struggled to care for him and she didn’t have the right resources to help him get to his blood glucose goals. The loss of my grandfather prompted my entire family to reevaluate our lifestyle and to learn more to help reduce our risk for developing type 2 diabetes.

    As a chef, a Latina, and someone who has lost a loved one to complications from type 2 diabetes, I understand that eating healthier can be one of the more difficult parts of managing diabetes. That’s why I’m passionate about empowering people with diabetes and their loved ones to learn more about healthy eating and the importance of setting and reaching their own goals.

    There’s no “one-size-fits-all” approach to managing diabetes, so it’s important to work with a doctor to come up with a personalized diabetes management plan that includes diet, exercise and medicine (if prescribed by your doctor). It’s also important to understand the risks of low blood glucose and how to help reduce that risk.

    I know first-hand how important family support is, which is why I want to hear from others who are caring for someone with type 2 diabetes. If you’ve lost someone to type 2 diabetes, like me, or are caring for someone with the disease, share your story today.

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