Diabetes Among African-Americans and American Indians

Diabetes Among African-Americans and American Indians: According to the National Diabetes Education Association, “3.7 million; 14.7 percent of all non-Hispanic blacks ages twenty and older have diagnosed and undiagnosed diabetes.”

This is roughly five percent higher than the national average. Another startling statistic comes from the Office of Minority Health, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, “African Americans are almost twice as likely to be diagnosed with diabetes as non-Hispanic whites.”

The NDEA indicates, “About 16.5 percent of American Indians and Alaska Natives ages 20 years and older who are served by the Indian Health Service have diagnosed diabetes.” They further report, “Diabetes rates vary — among Alaska Natives (6.0 %) to American Indians in southern Arizona (29.3 %).”

Among these two ethnic groups we find a larger number of diabetic diagnoses, but we also find that increasing awareness has created an environment suitable to change in attitudes and response.



It should be noted that only 5% of diabetic cases in this ethnic group were listed as Type 1.

Because diabetes is described as a “Self-managed” disease there is an empowerment in the care you self-administer. Yes, the overall cost of managing diabetes may result in $4,000-$6,000 in treatment annually, but you need to remember you are in control of the daily care you receive.

As with all diabetic cases you will need to confer regularly with a health care provider and follow dosing instructions.

Some compelling reasons to accept the empowerment of diabetes management is that in the case of all ethnicities poor diabetes care can have a profound impact on the increase incidence of stroke and heart attacks. Cardiovascular disease can be a byproduct of poor health management.

The American Diabetes Association makes clear that many American Indians are beginning to take note of the care they need. The ADA provides a prayer written by American Indian George Perez of New Mexico, “Great Spirit, We thank you for your blessings that have provided the healthy foods to nourish our bodies. May we learn to appreciate and not take for granted all that we know to make us healthier. May we be open to accept change that will benefit not only ourselves, but also our children as well.”

This prayer provides a beautiful example of how actions taken today can affect future generations. If you take seriously the care needed to keep you healthy then you may see your children choose a healthy lifestyle early on. That course of action may well result in a better lifetime of health for your children.

Most organizations agree that the primary culprit for onset diabetes is a lack of physical activity and diet. When these issues are addressed there is a marked improvement in long-term health among both African-Americans as well as American Indians.

In both ethic groups the National Diabetes Education Association provides the same targets for normal health, “A1C (Blood Glucose) Less than 7 percent (check at least twice a year). Blood Pressure Less than 130/80 mmHg (check every doctor’s visit). Cholesterol (LDL) Less than 100 mg/dl”

When these targets get out of control the likelihood of onset diabetes or Type 2 becomes more pronounced.

However, when 30 minutes of daily exercise was combined with food choices low in calories and fat, health care providers typically see an improved climate for optimum health.