San Diego, California - During Black History Month, the American Diabetes Association (Association) is raising awareness about the seriousness of type 2 diabetes among the African American community. Currently, there are nearly 30 million people living with diabetes in the U.S. African Americans are disproportionately affected with 13.2% having been diagnosed with diabetes, compared to 7.6% of non-Hispanic whites.  They are also at an increased risk for serious complications of diabetes, which include blindness, kidney disease and amputations. Although the risk for complications can’t be eliminated, good control of diabetes has been shown to reduce those risks.

“Despite the continuing epidemic of diabetes with disparate impacts on ethnic minority groups, the good news is that interventions for prevention and treatment of diabetes are equally effective, regardless of race or ethnicity. This underscores the urgency of timely and optimal intervention in African Americans and other high risk groups,” said Samuel Dagogo-Jack, MD, FRCP, President, Medicine & Science, American Diabetes Association. “As part of Black History Month, the American Diabetes Association wants to draw attention to the seriousness of diabetes among the African American community and encourage the community to become educated about their risk for type 2 diabetesa condition characterized by high blood glucose levels caused by either a lack of insulin or the body's inability to use insulin efficiently. Type 2 diabetes develops most often in middle-aged and older adults but can appear in young people.X and the steps they can take to lead healthier lives.”

The Association has an unflagging commitment to the reduction and ultimate elimination of health disparities in diabetes through community education, outreach and training focused on African American communities. Last year, the Association’s African American initiative reached more than 4.5 million individuals in high-risk populations, raising awareness of the seriousness of diabetes and emphasizing the importance of making healthy lifestyle choices such as moving more and eating healthier.

In addition, to help close the health disparity gap, the Association has been leading efforts at the research and medical professional level. African Americans are among the under-represented groups in the biomedical research workforce. To help address this problem, the Association has worked with the National Institutes of Health on special mentorship programs to help expand the pool of African American professionals and researchers in the field. Over the course of the past 15 years, the Association has funded 55 Mentor-Based Minority Fellowships that trained nearly 70 new fellows in diabetes research. These foundational efforts lead to a multicultural and diverse research workforce.  

To celebrate Black History Month, the Association encourages people to visit diabetes.org/bhm or call 1-888-DIABETES (1-888-342-2383) for more information.