Live Empowered…with Diabetes

In elementary school, I attended a summer camp where a peer had diabetes. At certain times of the day, she went with the camp counselors to give herself insulin. I did not know it then but diabetes would grow to become an epidemic in the African-American community.

In the United States, 26 million children and adults live with diabetes. Research suggests that 79 million persons are living with prediabetes. The American Diabetes Association (ADA) reports 4.9 million African American ages 20 and older are diagnosed with diabetes. This is a serious health problem in the African American community.

What is diabetes?

Type 1 Diabetes is an autoimmune condition where the body is unable to produce insulin, which helps to regulate blood sugar in our bodies. Type 1 is not preventable and there is no cure. Research suggests it is caused by genetic disposition and/or environmental factors.

Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body is unable to properly use insulin. While there is no cure for Type 2, it can be managed.

If you are in a room of Black people and you say, “Raise your han dif you know someone with diabetes,” over half the room will have their hands raised. In the California African American Policy Priorities Survey (Spring, 2018), expanding access to quality healthcare was an extremely high priority for Black Voters. Quality healthcare should include access to quality preventative services.

How can diabetes be prevented?

We can talk about diabetes more. We can educate individuals, families, and organizations. We can develop and sustain more prevention programs. We can improve our nutrition with greater access to nutrition counselors. Also, we can increase our physical activity and reduce obesity.

Why does this epidemic need to be prevented?

According to the American Diabetes Association, diabetes is costing $327 billion annually. Among Black people, inpatient costs are 23% higher and there are 65% more emergency department visits. California has the largest population of people with diabetes, costing the state $39.5 billion annually (ADA). Additional costs include, increased absenteeism, reduced productivity at work, and/or the inability to work.

The good news is diabetes is not a death sentence. Quality management of care, support, and good nutrition will keep us alive. November is Diabetes Awareness Month, while this disease is riddling the black community, if you don’t have it, you can educate yourself and others. If you do have it, consider sharing your story, it might save a life.