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The Black community must remain vigilant about diabetes


African-Americans 12.1 percent of cases

Black health is an important topic in the community, but many do not take the correct steps for better health until it’s too late. For reasons largely unknown, the Black community’s relationship with health and the medical field has been unstable at best, especially in the United States. California Black Health Network is trying to bridge the gap and provide the Black community with expert health knowledge they can trust by holding webinars with different medical experts.

Dr. Courtney Walker, the health outcomes Director for Health Equity at Novo Nordisk, talks about diabetes and how people already diagnosed should take care of themselves.

“I want to provide understanding for the diseases and clarify some of the myths and misinformation spread around in the Black community about diabetes as sugar compensation is still the main belief many people have about what causes diabetes,” Walker said.

Walker explained that Black people make up 12.1 percent of the American population who have some form of diabetes and are only second to indigenous people, who make up 14.5 percent. This is considered another hindrance to the Black community because the relationship between sugar and Black people aids in the destabilization of various organs for people. Walker also notes that Black people are twice as likely to develop diabetes than their white counterparts.

“Black people have a 60 percent chance of developing insulin resistance that is characterized by this decreased hepatic insulin degradation, where there is excess insulin left in their system, which causes a damper in the insulin receptors,” Walker said as he explained how genetics plays a role in the development of diabetes. “The impact of diabetes in the Black community is so much more substantial because of the genetics aspects, but also from a behavior standpoint as many from the community don’t trust medical experts because of the history in the United States and the Tuskegee experiment.”

Dr. Joshua J. Joseph, assistant professor of medicine in the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in Columbus, also agrees that diabetes presents itself as a threat to the Black community. “It’s really at all levels, It’s not just the choices people make–it’s the entrenched issues that lead them to make those choices.”

“But those lifestyle factors; they don’t come out of thin air,” Joseph said. “As a doctor, I can tell a patient to eat fruits and vegetables and cut back on sugar-sweetened beverages. But if the environment that they live in does not have healthy food options, then that’s going to be very difficult for them.”

Walker suggests people dealing with pre-diabetes or diabetes look into the  T2D treatment as they create specific diet plans, provide answers to any questions, and help you adjust to life with diabetes.

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