Diabetes affects more than 1 in 10 Americans — and a disproportionate number of those people are minorities. According to the American Diabetes Association, in 2019, the rate of diagnosed adult diabetics was approximately:
- 7.4% of non-Hispanic whites
- 9.5% of Asian Americans
- 11.8% of Hispanics
- 12.1% of non-Hispanic blacks
- 14.5% of American Indians/Alaskan Natives
While it’s hard to pinpoint exactly why some groups are more likely to develop diabetes than others, the fact remains that if you are a minority, the risk of developing diabetes is much higher than if you are Caucasian.
So, why do minorities have higher rates of diabetes, diabetic neuropathy, and other diabetes-related complications? And what actions can minority groups take to lower their risk for diabetes? We’ll answer these questions and more below.
Common causes of diabetes
Diabetes occurs when your body either can’t make insulin or can’t use insulin properly. Type 1 diabetes is thought to be caused by an autoimmune disease that may be triggered by genetics or a viral infection. Type 2 diabetes, on the other hand, is often caused by unhealthy choices such as a bad diet or a sedentary lifestyle.
Why minorities are more likely to get diabetes
Even though anyone can develop diabetes, there is a clear disparity in the number and severity of cases of diabetes in minority groups. So, what's the reason?
Minority groups, including Hispanic, African-American, Native American, Asian, and Pacific Island people, are exposed to more of the environmental risks associated with diabetes. These minority groups are often living with a combination of the risk factors linked to diabetes, such as:
- Lack of access to or unaffordable healthcare
- Socioeconomic status
- Different cultural attitudes and lifestyles
- A lack of awareness concerning diabetes
- The adaptation of the “western diet” or increased consumption of fast food
- Racial and ethnic differences that treatments may not address
And those are just the environmental factors. Genetics may also play a role by increasing certain risk factors. For example, some people may be more at risk of developing obesity due to their racial/ethnic group — and obesity is one of the leading risk factors for developing certain types of diabetes.
Fighting back: How to decrease your risk of developing diabetes
Now that we know why diabetes is more common in minorities, it’s time to talk about how to fight it. The first and most important thing you can do to decrease your risk for diabetes is to learn more about the disease. Understanding your risk factors and beginning treatment can help you prevent diabetes or keep it from progressing.
Just because someone is of a certain race or ethnicity does not mean they’re guaranteed to develop diabetes. Making certain lifestyle changes can greatly reduce your risk of diabetes and other debilitating health conditions. Some of the most effective ways to help prevent and manage diabetes are to:
- Exercise more often
- Eat a healthy and well-balanced diet
- Stop smoking
- Limit your alcohol intake
- Test your blood glucose levels regularly
- Learn more about your family history
Even if you are predisposed to diabetes or are fighting against environmental factors that put you at greater risk of developing diabetes, these lifestyle changes can make a difference.
What to do if you develop diabetes
Of course, even the best prevention doesn’t guarantee that you won’t develop diabetes — but if you do, don’t panic. There are plenty of treatment options available to help ensure that you can still enjoy a high quality of life with diabetes.
For example, foot problems are one of the most common complications of diabetes. Fortunately, our collection of specially designed diabetic socks is the perfect way to combat any foot pain you may experience. Our team at Viasox is proud to offer a wide selection of non-binding diabetic socks, compression socks, and other products meant to help protect your feet.
Shop our socks online today to find your perfect pair.