Why Am I at Higher Risk of Getting Diabetes?

The increased risk for diabetes in the Hispanic population is believed to be due to the fact that Hispanic people are more likely to carry fat in their stomach area and have less muscle mass. What this means is that Hispanic people at a healthy BMI have more fat around their organs and abdominal area than their European counterparts. Hispanic people are therefore more likely to become obese which is a leading risk factor for diabetes. However, research suggests that this is not the only factor increasing risk. A study done in Texas found that Hispanic people, particularly those of Mexican heritage, have higher levels of insulin resistance than normally seen in people of the same BMI of European descent.1

Risk of Complications

Hispanic people are 1.5 times more likely to die from diabetes than people of European descent. They are also more likely to experience the complications associated with diabetes such as high blood pressure, blindness, nerve damage, and amputation. Hispanic people are almost twice as likely to develop end-stage kidney disease as a result of diabetes. This increased risk of developing complications is believed to be due to the fact that Hispanic people with diabetes are more likely to have chronically high blood sugars.2

What Can I Do?

While you can’t change your genetics, there are many simple ways you can prevent or manage diabetes. Eat healthy by reducing portion sizes, adding more fruits and vegetables, eating more whole grains. Get moving, and try to be active for 150 minutes each week. Go for a walk or bike ride with your family, take the stairs at work, or try a new fitness class at your community centre.

Resources

References

1. Haffner, S., Stern, M., Hazuda, H., Pugh, J., & Patterson, J. (1986). Hyperinsulinemia in a population at high risk for non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus. The New England Journal Of Medicine, 315(4), 220-224. 2.

2. Stern, M., Braxton, D. (1995). Ch.32: Diabetes in Hispanic Americans. Diabetes in America. 2nd Edition: 631-660.