Diabetes remains an outbreak in the U.S., but specialists are now more concerned that certain populations may not be getting the proper sort of treatment because of their cultural and ethnic beliefs.
Physicians can not utilize a one-size-fits-all approach to treating patients with diabetes; doctors, families and community leaders should work together to develop culturally specific applications, according to Dr. Kevin McKinney, Minority Health Affairs Committee chairman of the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists.
Cultural viewpoints of medication and disorder only compound the matter, said McKinney, who spoke at a recent American Medical Association media briefing on diabetes.
For instance, in certain societies, religion influences one’s physical and emotional well-being equally. Once an illness occurs, a family may seek out the help of a spiritual leader before consulting with a physician, which would delay treatment and increase the risk of complications.
“Many people in those communities do not even know they’re at risk,” McKinney said. “They might be familiar with diabetes and its effects, but they are unaware that living a healthy lifestyle can decrease their risk.”
McKinney stresses that education is the key to removing the incidence of diabetes in certain communities and suggests programs that match education with a cultural activity.
“Programs held at community and religious centers can focus on diabetes risk factors and some of the healthier approaches to traditional foods that can help in reducing those risks,” McKinney said.
Over 21 million Americans now have diabetes – a number that experts say will rise as high as 31 million by the year 2050. Every 24 hours, another 4,100 people in the United States are diagnosed with this disease.
But despite these dire figures, Dr. Frank Vinicor, director of the Division of Diabetes Translation at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, says that the medical community is making great strides to combat this epidemic.
“We all know that you don’t need to develop type 2 diabetes if you’re at high risk, and that in case you do have diabetes, then you don’t need to lose your eyes, your feet along with your own heart,” Vinicor said in the briefing.
The general prognosis for diabetes is starting to improve, Vinicor said.
“The levels of amputations and end-stage kidney disease due to diabetes are actually starting to fall,” he explained. “The preliminary data indicate that fewer people with diabetes are perishing. So we’re seeing some light at the end of the tunnel.”