Prevalence of Type 2 Diabetes Among Black Men and Women

Type 2 diabetes can develop at any age, but it often occurs in middle age and later. It occurs more often in people who are 45 or older, those who have a family history of diabetes, and those who are overweight or obese. Nearly 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with diabetes, and a disproportionate number of these Americans are Black men and women. In fact, Black adults in the U.S. are nearly twice as likely as white adults to develop Type 2 diabetes. Several factors have been found to contribute to this disparity, mostly biological factors such as weight and obesity, but reports keep demonstrating that this disparity is not going away. Over the past 30 years, Type 2 diabetes has been rising among Black adults, so it is critical to take action that takes back control of health and lives.

Living with Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes cannot be cured, but it can be managed. If left unmanaged, diabetes can damage the heart, eyes, nerves and kidneys. It can be life-threatening, so taking control is critical. Controlling this disease often means lifestyle changes and new routines. It means finding ways to lower stress because stress elevates blood sugar. It means making smart decisions about diet, including what is stocked in the fridge and pantry, pre-planning meals, taking a diabetes-friendly alternative to a gathering, or making low-carb and low-sugar substitutions. Taking control means adding activities and exercise to routines to counteract some of the negative impacts that diet, extra weight and biological factors can have on health. Additionally, taking control means keeping appointments with a healthcare team and participating in routine testing.

Keeping on Top of Type 2 Diabetes with Screening, Testing and Care

Diabetes requires constant monitoring and testing. It requires a person to regularly check their blood sugar levels at home, but it also requires testing that is done by a healthcare team in a doctor’s office or lab. People with Type 2 diabetes need a healthcare team. This team is usually a primary care doctor and specialists that are referred by the primary care doctor. Also, it is very important for people with diabetes to check in with this healthcare team at least twice a year. In fact, the National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive and Kidney Diseases recommends the following routine care: 

  • Primary Care Visits: See your healthcare team at least twice a year, and during each visit, make sure you have a blood pressure check, foot check, weight check and review of your self-care plan. Your healthcare team should also help you access annual care to check your teeth and gums, conduct a dilated eye exam to check for eye problems, get an annual flu shot, test your cholesterol, and run urine and blood tests to check for kidney problems. 
  • A1C Tests: Your healthcare team should run a test to check your A1C at least twice a year, but if your A1C is over 7, your care team may recommend more frequent tests and monitoring. (Amerigroup Maryland members are offered a $25 Healthy Reward for completing their diabetic A1C screening. Visit the Amerigroup Member Portal or call the Member Services phone number on your Amerigroup ID card for more information about this benefit.)
  • Vaccines: Because diabetes can put you at risk of suffering complications from certain diseases, it is very important to follow your healthcare team’s advice on vaccination, including getting vaccines for pneumonia, hepatitis B and COVID-19.

Resources to Help Manage Type 2 Diabetes

Diabetes can be a lot for a person to handle on their own, but they don’t have to because there is help. In fact, there is a wealth of resources that can help people take control of their health and lives: 

  • Friends and Family – Families and friends of people with diabetes should educate themselves about the disease, so they can help loved ones stick to care plans, follow routines, make healthy decisions and so much more. To learn more about how to help a friend or family member who has diabetes visit: https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/library/features/family-friends-diabetes.html#:~:text=Go%20to%20appointments%20if%20it’s,Avoid%20blame.
  • Healthcare Team – Having a primary care doctor, who can help put together a healthcare team, is a must for a person with diabetes. Talk to a primary care doctor about who should be on this healthcare team. Anyone who doesn’t have a primary care doctor should get established with one right away. Amerigroup Maryland members can get help by visiting: https://www.myamerigroup.com/md/care/find-a-doctor.html or calling Member Services at 1-800-600-4441 (TTY 711).
  • Amerigroup – Amerigroup Maryland offers health and wellness information online for anyone who is living with diabetes, as well as extra supports and Healthy Rewards for its members who have diabetes. Information, diabetes management apps, interactive tools, links to credible resources and even member rewards for keeping up with routine care have been made available by Amerigroup. To explore these resources, visit: https://www.myamerigroup.com/md/care/health-and-wellness.html.

November has been designated as National Diabetes Month. This designation calls upon all Americans to join in activities that raise diabetes awareness in order to help prevent, treat and manage this disease. It’s a call for everyone to play a role, so whether it is making a lifestyle change, planning a diabetes-friendly adjustment for the next holiday party, researching the disease on the internet, scheduling a doctor’s visit, or talking to friends and family about diabetes, take action that makes a positive impact.

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