In November, National Diabetes Month focuses attention on the effects of diabetes in American, reducing the risk, and supporting those living with diabetes.
From the physical, emotional, and social effects to the financial and damaging health consequences, diabetes impacts more than 30 million people in the United States. Founded by the American Diabetes Association, the month focuses on making healthy changes, reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes, and spreading information and resources.
Diabetes is a disease that occurs when your blood glucose, also called blood sugar, is too high. It affects millions Americans, including adults and youth. Diabetes can damage the eyes, kidneys, nerves, and heart, and is linked to some types of cancer.
According to the CDC, “Hispanics are more likely to have type 2 diabetes (17%) than non-Hispanic White people (8%). Over their lifetime, US adults overall have a 40% chance of developing type 2 diabetes. But if you’re a Hispanic or Latino adult, your chance is more than 50%, and you’re likely to develop it at a younger age. Diabetes complications also hit harder: Hispanic or Latino people have higher rates of kidney failure caused by diabetes as well as diabetes-related vision loss and blindness.”
Prediabetes in Hispanics
Hispanics are also more likely to have prediabetes. With prediabetes, blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough yet to be diagnosed as type 2 diabetes. If you have prediabetes, you’re at higher risk for getting type 2 diabetes and other serious health problems, including heart disease and stroke.
“Prediabetes usually doesn’t have any symptoms, so finding out your risk by taking the 1-minute prediabetes risk test (available in Spanish and English) is an important first step, especially if you have other prediabetes risk factors. If you get a high score (5 or above), visit your doctor and get a simple blood sugar test to confirm your result,” the CDC advises.
If you have prediabetes, making changes to your lifestyle can help you prevent or delay type 2 diabetes. By losing a modest amount of weight through healthy eating and being more physically active, you can improve your overall health and lower your diabetes risk.
The CDC states, “A modest amount of weight loss is about 10 to 14 pounds (4.5 to 6.3 kg) for a 200-pound (90.6 kg) person. Getting at least 150 minutes of physical activity a week, such as brisk walking, also is important. That’s just 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week.”
Find classes to teach you diabetes prevention skills in Spanish and English as part of the CDC’s National Diabetes Prevention Program.
Hispanics managing diabetes
Hispanics with diabetes often face struggles and difficulties managing their diabetes. Communication barriers is one common issue Hispanics face. Additionally, cultural values and beliefs often hinder Hispanic individuals from seeking medical care for their diabetes.
“You may put the needs of your family before your own health needs. You may want to use natural or traditional medicines instead of standard diabetes treatments. You may also have heard that taking insulin will cause diabetes complications (this isn’t true),” says the CDC.
Indeed, Hispanics are very family and culture oriented. Some may be hesitant to make changes that will affect the whole family. Food and family meals are very important to Hispanic families and when a family member makes changes to their diet those changes will affect the whole family. Instead of fearing these changes, seek out support from your family members and use this as an opportunity to make healthy changes for the entire family. Hispanic children and teens also are at a higher risk for type 2 diabetes, so learning healthy eating habits early can help prevent it.
Join the fight against diabetes!
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