Learn about diabetes during Minority Health Month
By Mary Hiller
Communications Coordinator, National Kidney Foundation of Michigan
ANN ARBOR — The month of April is National Minority Health Month and the National Kidney Foundation of Michigan (NKFM) is recognizing Minority Health Month by educating communities on how to manage and prevent diabetes, which is disproportionately higher in many minority groups.
Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure, causing over 40 percent of all cases. The good news is many cases of kidney failure may be prevented or delayed with proper control and management of diabetes. Over 29 million Americans have diabetes (9.3 percent of the U.S. population). Of these, 8.1 million do not know they have the disease.
Minorities have a higher prevalence of diabetes than non-Hispanic whites, and some groups of minorities also have higher rates of diabetes related complications such as kidney failure, visual impairment, lower-extremity amputation, and even death.
Additionally, the percentage of adults who have been diagnosed with diabetes is higher among certain minority populations. The percentage of individuals age 20 and older who have diagnosed diabetes:
- 7.6 percent of all non-Hispanic whites
- 13.2 percent of all non-Hispanic blacks
- 12.8 percent of Hispanics/Latinos
- 9.0 percent of Asian Americans
In addition to racial minorities, others who have an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes are older individuals, those with a family history, women with a history of gestational diabetes, and individuals with high blood pressure. It’s important to take steps to prevent diabetes if you are at risk and to manage your health if you have diabetes to reduce your chances of developing kidney disease and ultimately, kidney failure.
For individuals with diabetes, there are a few steps that should be taken to avoid related health complications. By managing your diabetes ABCs (A1C, blood pressure, and cholesterol), you can prevent or delay the onset of kidney disease and other diabetes-related complications. This includes keeping your blood sugar low, with an A1C blood value of 7 percent or lower; managing your blood pressure by keeping it at 120/80 or less; and keeping your cholesterol under 200mg/dl. For those with diabetes and those at risk for diabetes alike, it’s also important to maintain a normal weight, engage in regular physical activity, eat healthy, and stop smoking.
The NKFM offers the Diabetes Prevention Program "My Choice ... My Health" at various locations throughout Michigan. My Choice ... My Health helps those at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes adopt and maintain healthy lifestyles by eating healthier, increasing physical activity and losing a modest amount of weight in order to reduce their chances of developing the disease. Visit nkfm.org/dpp for a list of upcoming classes and for more information.
For other diabetes resources and information during Minority Health Month, check out the National Diabetes Education Program (NDEP) at YourDiabetesInfo.org. You can also get information from the NKFM by calling 800-482-1455 or by visiting the NKFM’s website, www.nkfm.org.