African-Americans develop diabetes at significantly higher rates than do non-Hispanic whites and are more likely to suffer complications like cardiovascular disease, blindness, kidney failure and lower-limb amputations. These facts are harsh, unjust and sobering, but the story does not have to end there.

Turning it around

The good news is that interventions for prevention and treatment of Type 2 diabetes are equally effective, regardless of race or ethnicity.

Healthy eating and physical activity play a critical role in delaying or preventing the development of Type 2 diabetes, and in delaying, preventing and managing the complications associated with both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes.

At first, making changes can seem daunting, especially in the midst of carrying out the demands of everyday life, but lifestyle changes do not need to be drastic in order to be effective. Fighting that common misconception is important to gaining a mentality of freedom and empowerment.

Finding your way 

It also is important to remember that diabetes is not a one-size-fits-all disease. It affects people in different ways, so it is managed best when individuals work with their health care provider and diabetes educator to incorporate the right changes for them.

Monitoring blood glucose levels, incorporating physical activity, being mindful of what foods are eaten and when, and even coping effectively with having diabetes can all have a positive effect on diabetes outcomes.

Taking action

When people can release the notion that diabetes complications will be inevitable because they aren’t able to overhaul their entire lives, they are able to make the small, effective changes that become lasting lifestyle changes.

Because accurate information engenders power, the elimination of health disparities in diabetes is entirely within reach, through community education, outreach and training focused on African-American communities to make information more accessible.