Diabetes Hits Harder For Minorities In Rural Areas

By: Elizabeth Donatelli
By: Elizabeth Donatelli

January 24, 2006

Diseases like Diabetes, Cancer and Mental Illness can strike anyone, but even Mother Nature can discriminate. The big picture is that many minorities in rural areas aren't getting the health care they deserve and need, especially when it comes to Diabetes.

Rural counties in Virginia show that the rate of diabetes is even higher there than the national numbers--especially for minorities.

"The highest rates of Diabetes are among Native Americans, Hispanics, African Americans, even Asian Pacific Islanders," said Sharon Utz of the UVa School of Nursing.

One of the most at-risk groups may be African Americans.

"Adults as a whole, the national average is about 6 percent. For African Americans it's about twice that, so it's about 12 to 13 percent," said Utz. "The rates of complications--serious complications like amputation and blindness and kidney failure--are much higher in African Americans."

Researchers at UVa's School of Nursing believe the first factor may be genetics, but after that, lifestyle choices.

"Overweight, a high fat, high simple carbohydrate diet, inactivity definitely contribute to the development of diabetes, but the genetic pre-disposition also is a major factor," said Utz.

The good news is there are way to control or prevent it. They deal mostly with being active and exercising, as well as eating healthy.

This is only part of the research UVa is doing on health care for minorities in rural areas.

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