November is National Diabetes Awareness Month, and according to the American Diabetes Association, African Americans are disproportionately affected by type 2 diabetes. Statistics show that compared to the general population, we are 1.7 times more likely to have type 2 diabetes than non Hispanic whites and 13.2% of all African Americans aged 20 years or older have diagnosed diabetes.
Uncontrolled type 2 diabetes is associated with an increased risk for a number of serious, sometimes life-threatening complications, and African Americans are among the populations that experience an even greater threat. Good diabetes management can help reduce your risk, however, many people are not even aware that they have diabetes until they develop one of its complications. African-Americans are significantly more likely to suffer from diabetes-related complications such as blindness, kidney disease and amputations.
Research shows that genetic traits, the prevalence of obesity and insulin resistance all contribute to the risk of diabetes in the African American community. But even if you have a family history of type 2 diabetes, it can be controlled with lifestyle and dietary changes.
From the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, here are a few simple steps you can take to reduce your risk:
- Lose weight and keep it off. You may be able to prevent or delay diabetes by losing 5 to 7 percent of your starting weight. For instance, if you weigh 200 pounds, your goal would be to lose about 10 to 14 pounds.
- Move more. Get at least 30 minutes of physical activity 5 days a week. If you have not been active, talk with your health care professional about which activities are best. Start slowly to build up to your goal.
- Eat healthy foods most of the time. Eat smaller portions to reduce the amount of calories you eat each day and help you lose weight. Choosing foods with less fat is another way to reduce calories. Drink water instead of sweetened beverages.
- Talk to your doctor. Ask your health care professional about what other changes you can make to prevent or delay type 2 diabetes.