Don’t Be A Statistic When It Comes To Diabetes

Don’t Be A Statistic When It Comes To Diabetes

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Few diseases take a greater toll on the health of racial and ethnic minorities than diabetes. According to the June 2014 National Diabetes Statistics Report, about 13 percent of African American and Hispanic adults have diabetes. For African American women over 55 years of age, the rate is an alarming 25 percent, or one out of every 4. Among Asian Americans, 9 percent   have diabetes, and the rate is highest among Native Americans, at nearly 16 percent. By comparison, the rate in Whites is about 7.5 percent.

Also very disturbing is the fact that minority adults with diabetes are more likely to develop complications, have more disabilities, and die from their disease than Whites. Complications of diabetes include blindness, kidney disease, amputations, heart disease, stroke, and nerve damage.

While some risk factors for diabetes – age, race and family history — are beyond control, others, especially weight and diet, are clearly within a person’s ability to control. Therefore, it’s very important for persons with diabetes who don’t already keep it under control, take the steps needed to control it.

We’re aware, of course, that there are challenges faced in controlling diabetes including:

  • Many minorities live in communities where healthy food and physical fitness are often low on the priorities scale, if they exist at all;
  • Whether it is due to culture, attitudes or conditioning, the choices often made when it comes to eating and exercising, especially along with family members and/or friends, are often poor ones.

The above combined issues alone explain quite a bit why there are such increased rates of overweight and obesity in minorities, especially African Americans, Hispanics, and Native Americans and Alaska Natives.

Think about the above mentioned statistics for a moment. The good news is that there is much that can be done to change them. That includes many small but significant lifestyle changes that help with diabetes prevention and control – changes that anyone at any socioeconomic level can make. Here, in a nutshell, are some of them:

  • Set a goal to lose at least 5 to 7 percent of your current weight (that’s 10 to 14 pounds for a 200-pound person) by making healthy food choices and being more physically active. By putting yourself on that wellness track, says the National Diabetes Education Program, you can significantly cut the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, the most common form of the disease.
  • Making healthy food choices every day by choosing:

– high fiber foods such as pears and apples with skin, raspberries, strawberries, oranges, whole wheat, oatmeal, bran flakes, brown rice, peas, beans, nuts and vegetables;

– eating 5 fruits and vegetables daily,

– eating calcium-rich foods such as low-fat or fat-free milk, yogurt and cheese.

  • Ordering smaller portions to cut down on calories and fat – both if you’re eating out, and when you’re eating at home;
  • Taking time to prepare and cook healthy meals, such as:
  • Instead of fried chicken, for example, try it grilled, baked or broiled.
  • If you choose to fry, use vegetable or canola oil.
  • A baked sweet potato topped with reduced-fat or fat-free sour cream is a tasty side-dish option.
  • Also, freeze portions of the healthy meals you prepare so you have meals ready for days when you don’t have the time or are too tired to cook.
  • Drink water instead of sweetened fruit drinks or soda as your drink of choice. By drinking a glass of water 10 minutes before your meal, you can take the edge off your hunger.
  • Build physical activity into your regular day.

To help reach your weight loss goal, you need at least 30 minutes of active physical  activity at least 5 days a week. For many of us, the best way to get that is by taking a brisk walk five days a week. Other ways to help keep your goal include:

  • taking the stairs instead of the elevator at work,  
  • getting off the bus a stop before you normally would, and hoofing it the rest of the way,   and
  • parking your car further away than usual when shopping

Taking steps like these is not just good advice, it could be life-saving advice. Break cultural  habits that often bind many of us to poor habits, and make the kinds of lifestyle choices that defy the statistics and make it possible for us to lead healthy lives, free of diabetes and all its complications.

Click on our Health Power Tip Sheet, 10 Diabetes Prevention and Control Tips because Diabetes is Never a Little Touch of Sugar, and the Diabetes Section of our website for a wealth of additional information and tips on how to prevent and control your weight as well as diabetes.

Remember our motto: Knowledge + Action = Power! ®