Diabetes in the Latino community

The rate of diabetes among the Latino community is almost double than that of non-Latino whites. We can all fight together to stop this disease!

Diabetes is one of the leading causes of death and disability in the United States. It is the fifth leading cause of death among Hispanics and Latinos in the United States.

What is Diabetes? Diabetes is a disease in which the body does not produce enough insulin or does not use insulin the way it should. Insulin is a hormone that converts sugar in the blood into energy. Therefore the blood sugar stays in the bloodstream and cells become starved for energy. The excess sugar in the blood causes other complications such as, heart disease, stroke, hypertension, blindness, kidney problems, and loss of sensation in the feet and legs. A person with diabetes may have no symptoms at all, but some common symptoms include: being very thirsty, being very hungry, having dry, itchy skin, urinating often, losing weight, feeling very tired, and others. Please visit the American Diabetes Association for more detail information about diabetes.

Diabetes is an urgent health problem in the Latino community. The rate of diabetes among the Latino community is almost double than that of non-Latino whites. In 2010, a report evidenced that, from all ethnic groups, Hispanics have the most people with diabetes at 48.5 million.

Studies have reported that some of the cultural hurdles and assets are the language barrier for medical professionals, working long hours and demanding schedules, no time for exercise and the close relationship between food and culture among Hispanics.

Providing culturally appropriate information to the Latino community about the seriousness of this disease, its complications and ways to manage is essential. Some keys to have success in teaching healthy habits to this population are:

  • Consider the culture, acculturation and diversity.
  • Consider health literacy.
  • Keep it culturally sensitive, simple and engaging.
  • Make it personal and family oriented.

We can all fight together to stop this disease! If you would like to learn more about heathy lifestyles, visit the USDA’s My Plate page. Michigan State University Extension offers various educational programs for adults, families, and children that focus on lifestyle changes to promote healthy eating. For more health and nutrition tips, visit Michigan State University Extension.

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