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Commentary: Diabetes in the U.S. Latino community

By Mona Alvarado Frazier

Last week I shared a family incident, which many people said they identified with on two levels. One was the “Sandwich Generation,” which I also call the “Quesadilla Generation,” because I often feel like sticky queso pulled between two big tortillas. And the other identification is that everyone knows someone who is diabetic and suffers from its health consequences.

I’m not going to rag on one specific person. I can’t do that in good conscience because most of us have issues with not eating properly and “under-exercising.” Except my youngest son, the vegan skateboarder, but that’s another column.

The other reason I can’t rag on a specific person, is that my mother will throw her chancla at me, whether she’s legally blind or not. I avoided the ‘flying chancla’ last week because she doesn’t have a computer and my sisters wouldn’t read the article to her.

This week’s article is about Diabetes in the U.S. Hispanic/Latino population. I know statistics can be boring, but since I don’t want to upload gruesome photos of the effects of diabetes on the body, we’re going to have to go through the black and white numbers.

We have a higher risk of developing and dying from diabetes and are twice as likely as other populations to experience complications such as heart disease, high blood pressure, blindness, kidney disease, amputations and nerve damage.

In the United States, Diabetes is the fourth leading cause of death among Hispanic women and elderly. More than two million (or 8.2 percent) of the Hispanic/Latino Americans over 20 years of age have diabetes and many more remain undiagnosed; 90 to 95 percent of all diagnosed cases of diabetes have type 2 diabetes (non-insulin dependent).

Hispanic/Latino Americans are 1.8 times more likely to have diabetes than non-Hispanic whites of similar age. The 2007-2009 national survey data for people ages 20 years or older indicate that 7.1 percent of non-Hispanic whites, 8.4 percent of Asian Americans, 11.8 percent of Hispanics/ Latinos, and 12.6 percent of non-Hispanic blacks had diagnosed diabetes.

Among Hispanics/Latinos, rates were 7.6 percent for both Cuban Americans and for Central and South Americans, 13.3 percent for Mexican Americans, and 13.8 percent for Puerto Ricans.

Compared with non-Hispanic white adults, the risk of diagnosed diabetes was 18 percent higher among Asian Americans, 66 percent higher among Hispanics/Latinos, and 77 percent higher among non-Hispanic blacks. (National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse).

In 2007 the combined medical and indirect (loss of job, premature death, disability) cost of diabetes totaled almost $175 billion dollars. According to the National Diabetes Education Program, there is a “Diabetes Epidemic” among U.S Latinos…

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