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World Diabetes Day — An observance that should be on every Latino’s calendar

LatinaLista — Obesity is at a crisis stage in the Latino community. The Office of Minority Health reported in September that:

World Diabetes Day is observed in El Salvador.

  • Among Mexican American women, 78 percent are overweight or obese, as compared to only 60.3 percent of the non-Hispanic White women.
  • In 2010, Hispanic Americans were 1.2 times as likely to be obese than Non-Hispanic Whites.
  • In 2009 – 2010 Mexican American children were 1.6 times more likely to be overweight as Non- Hispanic White Children.

Given these rates, it isn’t any wonder that Latinos suffer equally from high rates of diabetes. A Cedars-Sinai study published in September confirmed that Latinos were more prone to developing Type 2 diabetes.

“One of the reasons some people are at increased risk, we believe, is that fatty pancreas is unable to secrete enough insulin, which results in an individual progressing from impaired glucose tolerance to Type 2 diabetes,” said Lidia Szczepaniak, PhD, director of magnetic resonance spectroscopy at the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute and Biomedical Imaging Research Institute. “In our study, we found Latinos were especially vulnerable, as they tended to store more fat in the pancreas and their compensatory insulin secretion was entirely suppressed.”

Because of poor eating habits and lack of exercise, which already aggravate the tendency among Latinos to develop diabetes,the National Diabetes Education Program finds:

  • 10.4 percent of Hispanics/Latinos ages 20 years or older have diagnosed diabetes.
  • Among Hispanics/Latinos, diabetes prevalence rates are 8.2 percent for Cubans, 11.9 percent for Mexican Americans, and 12.6 percent for Puerto Ricans.

From the sub-groups of Latinos who develop diabetes at such high rates, it’s easy to see that the disease is a global problem. To heighten awareness of it, November 14 is designated as World Diabetes Day, while the month of November is recognized in the United States as National Diabetes Awareness Month.

World Diabetes Day, signified by a blue ring, is celebrated on the birthday of “Frederick Banting who, along with Charles Best, first conceived the idea which led to the discovery of insulin in 1922.” The theme for the global observance, which lasts until 2013, is Diabetes Education and Prevention.

With obesity trends not yet reversing, the threat of a new generation being diagnosed with the preventable disease is a reality that can only be prevented by taking seriously that a life filled with over-sized portions, sugar-heavy drinks and desserts and no more exercise than moving thumbs or fingers across a TV remote or keyboard is a predictor of a painful future.

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