Global studies on ethnic groups and minorities and the rising incidence of diabetes have revealed one factor in particular; ethnicity can increase or decrease one’s risk of developing diabetes.

Whilst in some cases this can be explained by access to healthcare and other socio-economic factors, studies have proved that even with equal access prevalence of diabetes differs between people of different ethnicity.

Ethnicity facts

  • Type 2 diabetes is up to 6 times more likely in people of South Asian descent [1]
  • Type 2 diabetes is up to three times more likely in African and Africa-Caribbean people [1]

Furthermore, diabetes affects different ethnic groups in different ways.

Diabetes in India and China

Although India and China are currently regarded as being the diabetes capitals of the world, to gain an appreciation of the variation of diabetes prevalence between different ethnic groups, the USA provides a valid model for study.

The USA houses an enormously diverse ethnic mix.

The National Health Interview Survey is one of the most comprehensive studies to date.

In the USA, according to results from the study, it appears that black and Hispanic people are more likely to have diabetes than non-Hispanic whites.

Furthermore, American Indians and Natives of Alaska are apparently more likely than any other minority to develop diabetes. Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have also been found to be significantly more at risk of developing diabetes than non-Hispanic whites.

Prevalence in ethnic minorities

The prevalence of diabetes amongst ethnic minorities can also cause problems in terms of treatment and healthcare.

The problems can stem from language barriers and non-ethnically sensitive prevention and treatment policies.

Prevention through education

Studies have repeatedly shown that the key to stemming the flow of global diabetes is early prevention, education and awareness.

It is the responsibility of every nation’s healthcare system to recognise the ethnic minorities most at risk and develop culturally appropriate treatment programs for them.

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