The steadily rapid increase of the number of people with diabetes in the United States is, needless to say, alarming. About 30 million Americans are now confirmed with the disease, and about 95 percent of them suffer from type 2 diabetes. Many of these cases have resulted to devastating consequences. Severe ones, which are poorly managed and/or left untreated have led to kidney damage, limb amputations and even death. In the last six years, diabetes is cited as among the top 10 causes of fatality in the United States.
Type 2 is the food-related form of diabetes, generally caused by diets that are high in sugar, sodium and fat. Foods that are rich in vitamins and minerals such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains lower the risk of this form of the disease. Unfortunately, proper, nutritious foods are not always accessible for all, thus making individuals and families in certain communities more susceptible to type 2 diabetes. More often than not, issues on access to healthy foods involve proximity and affordability.
Diabetes is, undoubtedly, a concern for the entire U.S. population. However, staggering reports show that low income, African Americans, Latinos and Native Americans are twice as likely to be diabetic than the affluent, whites. It is important to note that there are other factors that contribute to this disparity, including barriers to proper health care, which essentially gets the members of these communities diagnosed and treated – scarcity of local clinics, transportation to medical facilities, lack of insurance and the ability to afford medication.
The Union of Concerned Scientists recently conducted a study that shows the correlation between diabetes, and race and income that centers on the physical accessibility to healthy foods. The researchers used public data on food access, demographics and ultimately, health outcomes.
The study conclusively reports that diabetes and food access are directly correlated. Counties with populations consisting of lower income people of color lower are significantly more at risk of the disease than higher income communities, due to fewer food retailers that offer healthy options and more fast foods and convenience stores in their proximity.
foodfacts.com founder, Stanley Rak, started The Rak Foundation for Nutritional Awareness to bring attention to issues just like this that are impacting low-income communities. See how you can help here.
Find some helpful information on ways you can reduce your risk of diabetes here.