Diabetes-Worse for Minorities?

Diabetes is a potentially life threatening disease that affects over 21 million Americans who know they have it and countless millions more who either have it and don't know it or are on their way to getting it and don't have a clue.

It is rapidly becoming a world wide epidemic due to changes in lifestyle throughout the world. People are eating more western style foods-McDonald's is everywhere-and becoming more sedentary-courtesy of the information age. It is an equal opportunity destroyer of lives.

No less than Web MD recently did a story about a study done by a researcher at the University of Michigan. The study involved slightly over 1900 diabetic patients older than 55. The subjects were given detailed questionnaires and home blood sugar test kits.

The study was careful to eliminate disparity in incomes and access to health care as factors.

The study basically confirmed previous studies that certain minorities, namely Latinos and African Americans, have much higher hemoglobin a1c (Ha1c) than for their Anglo peers. Ha1c is a 90 day average of blood sugars and is considered to be a key measuring tool on controlling diabetes. Thus a higher Ha1c is an indication that diabetes is not being controlled very well.

The study asked probing questions of the participants that yielded some interesting if not problematic issues.

1. African Americans don't take their meds as well as their white peers.

2. Latinos experience more emotional distress than their white peers.

3. Social, economic, healthcare, and self management issues account for only 14% of the difference in Ha1c levels between whites and African Americans.

4. These factors account for 19% of the difference between Latinos and whites.

5. These factors only speak to 20% of the difference with 80% still unknown

The questions are then what accounts for the 80% remainder of the difference? We'll leave that to the academics. And what can be done to improve the other 20%?

It seems according to another study that coaching and a 'buddy system' works. I know if I have someone else that I am accountable to I behave better. How about you?

There is a website that may benefit those minorities and give them a chance to commune with others in the same boat-believe me it is a big boat. It is www.tudiabetes.com. Started recently by Manny Hernandez it has grown to over 1,000 members who share, vent and try to deal with the emotional side of the problem with their fellow diabetics. It is growing at a rate of 10% a week.

It was originally planned to be for Hispanics but quickly people from the world over have joined. It costs nothing and the resource alone is priceless.

"As someone with type 1 diabetes, I know the importance of having a support group of people to discuss the daily struggles and questions you have about diabetes," said Hernandez. "The community is not only for those who have diabetes. It is open to anyone who has a family member, friend or partner living with it, allowing us to help each other, educate ourselves and share the steps we take to stay healthy while living with diabetes."

That sharing and venting is an important part of the emotional piece of the puzzle and to that extent Tudiabetes.com fills a huge need.

The complete study can be viewed in the 24 September 2007 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine.

To find out more about Diabetes check the link below.

Jack Krohn has had Diabetes, Pre-diabetes and Syndrome X for nearly fifteen years. He speaks from the experiences he has had during that time.

His new website is devoted to educating patients of <a href="http://www.diabetesinfoforyou.com">DIABETES</a><p>

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