Acquired risk factors are associated with diabetes although ethnicity plays a role in increasing the incidence of the condition.
The ethnic groups in the United States that are at risk for different types of diabetes are as follows.
|Types of dabetes||Ethnic groups at risk|
|Type 1 diabetes||African American and Hispanic/Latino American|
|Type 2 diabetes||African American, Hispanic/Latino American, American Indian or Alaska Native|
|Prediabetes||African American, Hispanic/Latino American, American Indian or Alaska Native (some Pacific Islanders and Asian Americans are also at high risk)|
|Gestational diabetes||African American, Hispanic/Latino American, American Indian, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander|
The prevalence of diagnosed diabetes mellitus in the United States by race/ethnicity in adults who are 20 years of age and older is as follows.
|Ethnic group||Prevalence of diagnosed diabetes (%)|
|Hispanic Americans overall||12.5|
The prevalence of diagnosed diabetes in Asian Americans is
|Asian subgroup||Prevalence of diagnosed diabetes (%)|
The prevalence of diagnosed diabetes in Hispanics/Latinos includes
|Hispanic/Latino subgroup||Prevalence of diagnosed diabetes (%)|
|Central and South Americans||8.3|
Ethnicity and diabetes
There are medical and non-medical issues that make particular ethnic groups vulnerable to diabetes. Some of the medical reasons include
- Genetic factors that cause insulin resistance: Genes can affect the ability of the pancreas to produce sufficient insulin. It may also affect the body’s ability to respond to insulin. Genetic tendency to accumulate fat in the abdomen (abdominal obesity) can contribute to insulin resistance and hence make a person more likely to develop diabetes.
- Lifestyle factors: Factors that can hasten beta-cell damage include
Non-medical issues include
- Disparities in income
- Access to healthcare
- Cultural factors
For example, Hispanics/Latinos are more liekly to develop type 2 diabetes because of the following reasons.
- They have genes that make them more susceptible to type 2 diabetes.
- Their traditional diet is rich in fat and calories. Moreover, family celebrations may involve social pressure to overeat.
- They tend to be less active physically compared to non-Hispanic whites. Culturally, being overweight is identified as healthy instead of being a health problem.
Please note that these risk factors are general and do not apply to any individual or specific Hispanic/Latino groups.
Another example is Asian Americans. Although they do not appear overweight, they are at a high risk of type 2 diabetes. This may be due to higher visceral fat (extra body fat) and lower muscle mass.
Visceral fat isn’t visible and can increase the risk of heart disease, stroke and other health conditions.
The body mass index (BMI) does not apply to Asian Americans in the normal weight range (18.5 to 24.9). Researchers suggest that people of Asian ancestry should be tested if their BMI is 23 or above.
Diabetes can be prevented or delayed, but only if people know they’re at risk and take action. This includes increasing physical activity, getting regular screening for blood sugar levels and eating a diet that contains more fiber and proteins.
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