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Black And Hispanic Children Have A 50% Chance Of Getting Diabetes, Compared To 40% Of Americans Overall

black child
The CDC study shows that African American and Hispanic kids are more likely to develop diabetes. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

Kids born in the 2000s already have a lot to worry about — and one of those things is diabetes.

A new large study completed by epidemiologists at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has found that black and Hispanic kids have a 50 percent chance of developing diabetes, in comparison to the 40 percent chance that Americans have overall. This is a remarkably high rate, and one that hopefully will make people realize the dangers of letting their children pick up unhealthy lifestyles that could lead to deadly consequences. In short, diabetes needs to be better understood and prevented in the U.S., the authors of the study argue.

The CDC researchers used data of about 600,000 Americans between 1985 and 2011. According to the study, African-American girls born in the 2000s have an even higher chance of developing diabetes (55.3 percent) than African-American boys born in the 2000s (44.7 percent). Both female and male Hispanic kids, meanwhile, have about a 51 percent chance of developing diabetes. White boys have a 37 percent chance, while white girls have a 34 percent chance of developing the disease.

The diabetes epidemic in America is real, and quite scary: the amount of people living in the U.S. who are diagnosed with diabetes or pre-diabetes has risen significantly in recent years, parallel with the number of individuals growing at the waistline. According to the American Diabetes Association, there were about 25.8 million Americans (8.3 percent of the population) with diabetes in 2010. But in 2012, about 29.1 million Americans, or 9.3 percent of the population, had diabetes. On top of that, over one-third of all Americans are obese, and this number continues to grow.

Reasons why African-Americans have a much higher chance of developing diabetes may have something to do with a variety of factors — from genes to socioeconomic status, to environmental influences. People who live in low-income areas, rural areas, or food deserts, for example, are less likely to have access to fresh fruits and vegetables and instead rely on less expensive options like junk food found at corner delis, Dunkin’ Donuts, or McDonald’s. Both type 1 and type 2 diabetes can be affected by genetics, too.

The CDC researchers also found that the less education an individual had, the higher their chance was for developing diabetes — but did not extrapolate as to why. One good piece of news came from the study, however. The researchers found that people with diabetes were living longer than ever before, most likely thanks to new diabetes treatments. But what’s really behind the diabetes epidemic?

Aside from genetics, Dr. Edward Gregg, the lead author of the study, says that people could avoid developing diabetes by “having more healthy food options, having more information about what we eat and what sorts of foods we eat are healthy,” and “having more options to be physically active,” Mother Jones reported.

Source: Gregg E, Zhuo X, Cheng Y, Albright A, Narayan K M, Thompson T. “Trends in lifetime risk and years of life lost due to diabetes in the USA, 1985-2011: a modelling study.” The Lancet. 2014.

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