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African Americans and Type 2 Diabetes

Why the Type 2 Diabetes Disparity?

It's clear that African Americans get more than their fair share of type 2 diabetes and related complications. Others may be quick to blame obesity and inactivity for this disparity, which is unfair and overly simplistic. It is helpful to understand that all ethnic groups, except Alaska Natives, are more likely to have type 2 diabetes compared to non-Hispanic whites. Even Asian Americans, despite being thinner than Caucasians on average, have a higher risk.
 
It's not fully understood why exactly these differences have developed. Some researchers think that some ethnicities have adapted biologically to having more erratic or scarce food supplies and are not well adapted to the overly abundant food supply of the United States. Others simply point to the fact that type 2 diabetes is largely genetic -- quite a bit more so than type 1 diabetes -- so it makes sense that it would be common in certain ethnicities compared to others.
 

If I'm African American, Am I Destined for Type 2 Diabetes?

After learning that ethnicity, family history, and other factors that can't be changed have put them at a high risk for type 2 diabetes, some people resign themselves to this future. Why eat right or struggle to lose weight, when it's your genes that are the problem? Don't let your risk factors turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy! The great news is that type 2 diabetes is preventable, and you don't have to make impossible changes in order to delay or prevent it.
 
Studies show that for people at a high risk for type 2 diabetes, all you need is a modest weight loss of 5 percent to 7 percent of your body weight (which is only 15 to 21 pounds for a 300-pound person) in order to help prevent or delay type 2 diabetes. You don't need to starve yourself or become an elite athlete. Small changes that are easy to live with can get you there. Build enjoyable physical activity (like walking, gardening, or dancing) into each day. Make a few healthier food choices each day.
 
Those same small and maintainable lifestyle changes are also a great idea for people who already have type 2 diabetes in order to help prevent complications. Little by little, each of these small choices makes a big difference.
 
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Information on Type 2 Diabetes

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