Rise in Diabetes in Ethnic Groups

The study published April 2017 in the New England Journal of Medicine www.nejm.org, reports that the trend in new diagnosed cases of type 1 and type 2 diabetes in youths under the age of 20 has increased within five major racial/ethnic groups in the U.S.

Because of the early age of onset and longer diabetes duration, many youths in major ethnic groups are at risk for developing diabetes-related complications at a younger age. This can lessen their quality of life, shorten their life expectancy, and increase healthcare costs.

Diabetes in youths and in ethnic groups in general include, Hispanics, Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders, and Native Americans. It was found that among youths ages 10-19, the rate of new diagnosed cases of type 2 diabetes rose most sharply in the Native American community.

Native Americans in general are twice as likely as whites to have diabetes. About 2 out of 3 Native Americans have kidney failure due to diabetes. This is due to the fact that Native Americans in general have more problems with high blood sugar and high blood pressure,

“These findings lead to many more questions,” said Barbara Linder, MD. PhD, Senior Advisor for Childhood Diabetes Research at NIH’s National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) www.niddk.nih.gov. “We need to understand why the increase in rates of diabetes development varies so greatly and is so concentrated in specific racial and ethnic groups.”

The Federal government is funding diabetes treatment and prevention services in Native American communities through the Special Diabetes Program for Indians (SDPI) coordinated by the Indian Health Services https://www.ihs.gov/sdpi.

According to experts in the field, healthcare community systems need to address disparities in diabetic care and use a population health approach which would require systems to assess long term outcomes. It is also necessary to promote wellness in the entire community and connect people to local resources to help them retain their health.

Also, it is important to develop a coordinated team approach to diabetes care. This requires patient education, community outreach, and the ability to track health outcomes. It is also important to provide access to providers, nutritionists, diabetes educators, pharmacists, community health workers, and behavioral health clinicians. Surveillance is needed to develop and use systems to collect and analyze data to guide decision-making.

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