Black Americans And Diabetes Essay

789 words - 4 pages

Introduction

Diabetes is one of the leading causes of death and disability in the United States, contributing to $245 billion annually in medical costs. According to the American Diabetes Association 25.8 million Americans have diabetes, approximately 95% of which have type II diabetes. Type II diabetes is largely caused by obesity, with 85% of people with type II diabetes also diagnosed as obese. The prevalence of diagnosed diabetes in the United States has increased by 128% from 1988 to 2008. Of those diagnosed, the risk of diabetes is 1.8 times higher among the black American population. Compared to 10.2% of non-Hispanic whites with diabetes, Blacks average 18.7% of the population ...view middle of the document...

Diabetes Among Blacks
Vast amounts of clinical research have been conducted in order to determine the root cause of the increased disposition among the black population to type 2 diabetes. There is no doubt that many lifestyle variables, such as high obesity rates and socioeconomic status can account for part of the higher prevalence of diabetes among the black population. Obesity is a severe problem among Blacks, particularly Black women. Both the degree and the distribution of fat is thought to contribute to the occurrence of diabetes in the Black population. This risk factor is further increased in poorer economic groups.
One interesting theory relating to the higher rate of diabetes in the Black community is that Blacks might possess a gene known as the “thrifty gene” inherited from their ancestors. This gene is thought to have enabled its holders the ability to use energy more efficiently when food was scarce by promoting efficient fat deposition. The theory supposes that without the “fast and famine” cycles associated with the necessity of this gene, the gene now contributes to increased fat storage and type 2 diabetes susceptibility.
This remains a theory; however, and is questioned by many to be a contributing factor to increased obesity among minority populations. One criticism is the role of physical activity on the development of the thrifty genotype. Because this gene was handed down by hunter-gatherers we have to take...

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