Exploring Health Disparities in Diabetes

by Varun Sreedhara
3 mins read

According to Monica E. Peek of the NIH, as the average lifespan of US citizens is increasing, serious disparities exist in today’s society with regard to diabetes for racial and ethnic minority groups. This spells important health implications in terms of their health outcomes and quality of care. Diabetes is a chronic condition in which blood glucose levels in the body become too high and can cause heart disease, blindness, chronic kidney disease, and nerve damage which may even result in lower-extremity amputations. In 2019, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) listed diabetes as the seventh leading cause of death in the United States.


According to Dr. Yogish Kudva MBBS, it is unclear why some people have diabetes and others don’t; however, certain risk factors have been identified such as obesity, a sedentary lifestyle, family history, race or ethnicity, and age. In a survey done by the CDC and the U.S. Census Bureau: 14.7% of American Indians/Alaska natives, 12.5% of Hispanics, and 11.7% of non-Hispanic blacks, 9.2% of Asian Americans have diabetes, while only 7.5% of non-Hispanic whites have diabetes. In 2013, the Center for Medicare Advocacy(CMA) found that 25% of Hispanics, 11% of persons of Asian descent, and 27% of African Americans lived in poverty while only 12% of Caucasians lived in poverty. Today in the US, healthcare is very expensive, and the more impoverished a person is, the less likely they will be able to afford healthcare. The FDA stated that, “Coupled with a lack of access to healthcare, diabetes can progress in minority populations faster due to an unhealthy life of poor diet, obesity, and sedentariness”.


Sandra Voda, a nurse at the Masonic Home of New Jersey in Burlington, stated that diabetes education courses are poorly attended by people of minority groups. Per Dr. Peek, “Patients have the ability to affect their health care and health outcomes through self-education, treatment adherence, and health-promoting behaviors. This is particularly important in chronic diseases such as diabetes, where self-management is a central tenet of care and has been linked to positive health outcomes”. 




Centers For Medicare & Medicaid Services “Diabetes Disparities in Medicare Fee-For-Service Beneficiaries” 17 June 2022 online. 


Mayo Clinic “What is type 1 diabetes? A Mayo Clinic expert explains” 17 June 2022 online.


Monica E. Peek, Algernon Cargill, and Elbert S. Huang “Diabetes Health Disparities” National Institute of Health 17 June 2022 online.


Center for Medicare Advocacy “Racial and Ethnic Health Care Disparities” 17 June 22 online. 


U.S Food and Drug Administration “Fighting Diabetes’ Deadly Impact on Minorities” 17 June 2022 online.

Sandra C. Voda “Improving diabetes education for minority-group members” Nursing 2022 17 June 2022 online.

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