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Diabetes is historic scourge among Black population

The American Diabetes Association (ADA) has launched a “Count Me In” campaign for National Diabetes Month.

“If you think that you’re totally immune, or totally unaffected by diabetes, you’re not,” said Tracey D. Brown, chief executive officer of the ADA, who urges friends, caregivers and health providers to show solidarity. “There’s something you can do. It starts with you.”

While most diabetes is completely preventable and is treatable once you have it, diabetes cannot be cured.

Type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed in young people whose bodies do not produce enough insulin.

Prediabetes symptoms include: Increased thirst; frequent urination; fatigue; and blurred vision. One in three adults reportedly have prediabetes and don’t know they have it.

On, Americans are invited to find out their diabetes risk in a 60-second online test; go get a blood sugar test or health screening at a local Walmart or CVS Pharmacy; and talk to their doctor about symptoms.

More than 91 percent of all adult diabetes cases are Type 2, where the body does not use insulin properly. The insulin resistance that leads to Type 2 diabetes comes from a combination of genetics and lifestyle practices like poor diet, smoking, lack of exercise and obesity.

According to the most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than seven in 10 U.S. adults aged 20 years and older are either overweight or obese.

Last week, the personal-finance website WalletHub released its report on 2019’s Fattest States in America. California ranks as number 47, with only four other states ranking as slimmer: Connecticut, Massachusetts, Colorado and Utah. (The overall list also includes the District of Columbia, which ranked 45th).

The top five fattest states are Mississippi, West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee and Alabama.

WalletHub also listed the most popular comfort foods by state. Where Californians enjoy fish tacos at 244 calories per serving, Kentuckians enjoy “hot browns” (a sort-of open-faced turkey sandwich on egg bread with cheese gravy and bacon), which weighs in at 951 calories per serving.

To determine which states contribute the most to America’s overweight and obesity problem, WalletHub compared the states across key metrics that range from sugary-beverage consumption among adolescents to obesity-related health care costs.

It’s estimated that treating diabetes in the U.S. cost $327 billion in 2017. A type 1 diabetes patient’s life expectancy is reduced by 14 years in males and 18 years in females.

Locally, more than 11 percent of Los Angeles residents are living with diabetes and even more are considered prediabetic and likely to be diagnosed as such. The prevalence of this disease can be reduced by improving diets, losing weight and increasing activity to lower risk.

If you are not very active or are worried about your health, it’s important to consult your doctor and start slowly. Light walking is a great place to start. Even losing 10 – 15 pounds can have a significant impact on your health, according to the ADA.

The association also suggests that people share their nutrition challenges. Chances are someone nearby is dealing with something similar.

“The most important thing for you to know is that there is help and support for the treatment of your diabetes,” said Brigida Davila, a certified diabetes educator for the Martin Luther King Community Medical Group.

“Its also important to have a primary care doctor who can work with you to treat your diabetes whether it is with medications or lifestyle changes,” Davila added. “Doctors and medicine can help, but the best person to keep you healthy is you!”

Davila recommends taking a diabetes class and/or reading a book about the disease to educate yourself. Science-based websites, such as the ADA, CDC, or the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases sites are also good places to learn about the condition and how it can be treated.

“Start a walking group, take a healthy cooking class, or join a support group – these are just a few of the things that can keep you on a healthy track,” Davila said. “Ask your health team to connect you to resources in your community.”

Health care disparities in Black neighborhoods hit diabetic patients hard.

African-Americans are almost twice as likely to be diagnosed with diabetes as non-Hispanic Whites, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health. Additionally, Blacks are more likely to suffer complications from diabetes, such as end-stage renal disease and lower extremity amputations.

As you get older, your risk for type 2 diabetes increases. Additionally, a higher body mass index (BMI), a measure of height vs. weight, raises the risk for type 2 diabetes.

Take the American Diabetes Association  60-second type 2 diabetes risk test at Only your doctor can tell for sure if you have diabetes or prediabetes. These conditions often do not cause any symptoms.

In combating diabetes, one must get into good habits of eating healthy food, exercising regularly and becoming current with regular health checkups. To locate LA parks, farmers markets, clinics and other resources, visit