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Many factors can cause the onset of diabetes. Race, age, lifestyle and community factors are all associated with higher rates of diabetes.
African Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans and other minority groups are most likely to have type 2 diabetes – which make up more than 90 percent of all cases. The most recent research shows African American adults are 60% more likely to be diagnosed with diabetes than non-Hispanic whites. They’re also twice as likely to die from the disease.
Native Americans struggle with a higher risk, too. In some communities, 60 percent of tribal members may be diabetic. The Pima Indians of Arizona have the highest rate of diabetes in the world. More than half of the tribe has been diagnosed with it. Data also shows American Indians develop diabetes earlier in life and have more complications.
Hispanic communities are also dramatically affected. They’re 70% more likely to be diagnosed with the disease than non-Hispanic whites. And studies show they’re twice as likely to be hospitalized with end-stage kidney disease, and 1.3 times more likely to die from diabetes.
Diabetes also touches many seniors. Nearly 33 million people over the age of 65 are diabetics. With the disease, they face much higher risks for diabetes-related illnesses. Kidney failure and heart disease can all be brought on by diabetes. Low blood sugar can be an unintended consequence in trying to treat diabetes with medications.
Apart from race and age factors, poor lifestyle choices and health “disparities” can play a huge role in the onset of diabetes and its treatment.
Health disparities might mean living in a rural setting far from health care or a place where there aren’t many choices for care. Some people may live in a ‘food desert’ where healthy foods are hard to find. Areas with high crime can make it harder or even unsafe to exercise.
Still, there are ways to beat these challenges:
Research shows these changes can help cut the risk of type 2 diabetes by as much as 58 percent.
Originally published 12/29/2014; Revised 2019, 2022
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