College Health for Black History Month – Diabetes

Continuing our Black History Month theme of conditions disproportionately affecting African Americans, let’s talk about one of the biggest epidemics in modern medicine: Type 2 Diabetes.

African Americans are almost twice as likely as Caucasian Americans to develop diabetes in their lifetimes (11.8% vs. 6.6%) and much more likely to be obese (36.1% overall, with 42.1% of African American women being categorized as obese). We’re not entirely sure why this is; most likely it is a combination of genetics and lifestyle factors.

Diabetes isn’t just about high blood sugar levels; it comes with many long term complications. People with Type 2 Diabetes are much more likely to suffer heart attacks, vision loss, kidney failure, and strokes. And as if that wasn’t enough, diabetics are also more likely to experience impotence and foot complications that can lead to amputation!

One of the key strategies in fighting Diabetes is prevention. There are a few simple steps you can take to prevent diabetes:

  • If you are overweight, losing 5-7% of your body weight can ward off the development of diabetes – that’s only 10-14lbs for a 200lb person!
  • Squeeze in at least 30 minutes of physical activity 5 days a week – you’re already paying for RPAC membership, might as well use it!
  • Replace high fat, high sugar foods with healthier options – it’s easier than you may think.

For more information on Diabetes prevention, please check out this great program developed by the US Department of Health and Human Services.

If you have already been diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes, you can help prevent complications with good blood sugar control. Regular visits to your doctor are essential to staying in control of this disease.

If you are overweight or have a family history of Diabetes, please see one of our providers at Student Health Services to talk about Diabetes screening.  You can also get some more useful information here.

John A. Vaughn, MD
Student Health Services
The Ohio State University