Diabetes An Epidemic In The African American Community

1195 words - 5 pages

Diabetes an Epidemic in the African American Community

"The facts are clear: The diabetes epidemic sweeping the U.S. is hitting the African American community particularly hard, according to doctors." (2) Diabetes is defined as, "A disease that affects the body's ability to produce or respond to insulin, a hormone that allows blood glucose (blood sugar) to enter the cells of the body and be used for energy." (1) There are two types of diabetes: type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes, which usually begins during childhood or adolescence, "Is a condition characterized by high blood glucose levels caused by total lack of insulin. This occurs when the body's immune system attacks the insulin producing beta cells in the pancreas and destroys them.." (2) Type 2 Diabetes, most common form of the disease, "Usually occurring in middle age adults after the age of forty-five, is a condition characterized by high blood glucose levels caused by either lack of insulin or the body's inability to use insulin efficiently." (2) National health surveys over the past 35 years show that the number of African American's that have been diagnosed with diabetes is drastically increasing. In fact, it has been reported, "Out of 16 million Americans with diabetes, twenty-three million are African Americans." (3) There are clearly many implications on why diabetes is so rampant in the African American community, those of which will be discussed in this report. In this report, I will exam aspects of the "African American Culture," in order to determine whether those aspects have anything to do with the reasons why diabetes is higher in the African American community, more so than others.

"Have you ever heard in the Black culture someone say to another "I'm going home to grease?" or "Mama can sure burn." Do they mean that literally? Is there a lot of grease in soul food? Do African Americans like their food well done or almost burnt? Do greens and beans require pork to satisfy as soul food? Is this a legacy from slavery that remains with us 135 years later?" (4) These rhetorical questions are solutions to why diabetes is most prevalent in the African Americans community. "Fifty percent of African American women suffer from obesity. African American adults have substantially higher rates of obesity than white Americans." (3) Overweight is a major risk factor for diabetes 2 in the African American community. Excess amounts of fats and sugars are killing the African Community. In the bestseller Satan", by Dr. Jawanza Kunjufu, she argues that "Diabetes is the third leading killer after heart disease and cancer among African Americans." (4) She goes on to say that, "Historically black people have played diabetes off and commonly referred to this deadly disease by saying Mama has a sugar problem." (4) In order for the expansion of diabetes to lessen in the black community, people have to be comfortable enough to name the disease and realize that "if mama has a...

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