Diabetes is a severe health condition that affects millions of people in the United States. According to the Diabetes Research Institute, 37.3 million people in the U.S have diabetes, including diagnosed and non-diagnosed cases. Although this condition affects all divides, African Americans are among the most hit populations. This aspect worsens the racial disparity in the healthcare sector, attracting adverse health outcomes among African Americans. In 2021, 13.2% of persons with diabetes were Blacks, marking the severity of diabetes among this population (Haw et al., 2021). Hence, healthcare stakeholders must enact suitable steps to counter diabetes among African Americans. Researchers and scientists can use the social-ecological model of health to address the prevalence of diabetes among Black people in the U.S. Besides, this model can help determine optimal management techniques to help reduce diabetes and associated threats among African Americans. Addressing diabetes among African Americans improves the overall population health outcomes and reduces the number of diabetes cases in the U.S.
Diabetes Among African Americans
As noted above, diabetes disproportionately affects African Americans, compared to the majority White Race. Out of approximately 30 million diagnosed diabetes cases, African Americans account for 13.2%, while non-Hispanic Whites account for 7.6% (Haw et al., 2021). Worse still, this population has an increased risk of complications caused by diabetes, such as chronic kidney failure, vision loss, and heart issues due to poverty and poor access to optimal healthcare services. For instance, some Black persons with diabetes do not have medical insurance, such as Medicare, which hinders them from accessing good care due to high treatment costs (Agarwal et al., 2022). Other factors that cause high diabetes rates among African Americans are genetic aspects, poor diets, physical inactivity, and preexisting medical issues, such as obesity. Therefore, the social-ecological model of health will help address diabetes among this population to derive suitable interventions that help control this health issue.
All individuals are responsible for combating diabetes by monitoring their behavior. Particular individual behavior, such as dietary control, influences diabetes rates. African Americans must adhere to nutritional guidelines, such as eating fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, to control diabetes. This population should avoid foods that trigger diabetes, including sugary drinks, processed foods, and unhealthy fats. This aspect will significantly boost diabetes health outcomes and prevent associated complications. Markedly, genetic factors increase the risk of diabetes among Black adults (Strings et al., 2023). However, genetic factors cannot singly cause diabetes unless combined with environmental and behavioral aspects. Hence, individual behavior, such as adherence to optimal nutritional guidelines, will help reduce diabetes among African Americans.
Physical exercising is a fundamental move that can help manage diabetes among Blacks. African Americans face exercise challenges due to cultural aspects and safety concerns in some neighborhoods (Park et al., 2020). However, physical exercise is a crucial method to manage diabetes and overcome associated adverse impacts. Individuals can use optimal for different physical exercising patterns, including climbing stairs and morning runs, which are affordable and convenient. Responsible healthcare agencies and the government should implement workable health promotion strategies that enable diabetes patients to implement the suggested steps. For instance, the government should avail healthy food stores in all neighborhoods and enact strict restrictions on processed foods. Besides, law enforcers should provide security in all exercise hubs, such as recreational parks, to combat the fears and insecurity that hinder exercising.
Several social support systems can help control diabetes among African Americans. Social networks such as family and community health agencies can apply the social-ecological model of health to help manage diabetes. Family units can help reduce diabetes cases among African Americans by providing moral support to members with diabetes. Besides, families can help ensure that people with diabetes adhere to medication prescriptions, follow advised diets, and exercise regularly (Pourhabibi et al., 2022). This move will boost the overall public health output among African Americans by controlling one of this population’s most severe health conditions. Moreover, community health agencies can apply the social-ecological model of health to eradicate or reduce diabetes rates among African Americans. These facilities should undertake health promotion programs on diabetes causes, risks, and prevention measures. The programs in neighborhoods dominated by African Americans may entail annual seminars or other channels where health educators distribute brochures, pamphlets, flyers, and posters with relevant material on diabetes (Pourhabibi et al., 2022). Providing the public with this information helps control diabetes as people understand the precautionary measures. Therefore, families and health agencies can integrate the social-ecological health approach to help control and manage diabetes.
An individual’s living and working environments are fundamental in controlling diabetes. Employers should create a conducive working environment that helps employees manage diabetes. For instance, employers should enact wellness initiatives that educate workers on diabetes causes, risks, and precautionary measures (Rodriguez-Saldana, 2023). This move may entail educating workers on proper nutritional control and urging workers to engage in physical exercise. Besides, employers can provide workers with brochures containing information about diabetes. Such moves help create a healthy workforce and will significantly aid in preventing diabetes rates in the U.S, affecting diabetes cases among African Americans. Furthermore, persons with diabetes should create optimal living environments by avoiding storing processed foods and sugary beverages at home (Rodriguez-Saldana, 2023). This aspect helps people monitor their nutrition at home, aiding them to adhere to nutritional guidelines. Hence, this segment shows how the organizational level of the social-ecological model of health can help control diabetes cases among African Americans.
Public health stakeholders should focus on the African Americans’ social environments to address diabetes in this population. In this case, community health agencies should direct extra resources to regions dominated by Blacks when educating people about diabetes. Focusing on one of the most affected groups will help overcome diabetes and reduce the health adversities linked to the disease. Fundamentally, the community level of the social-ecological health model focuses on the affected group’s physical and socioeconomic backgrounds. Therefore, when addressing diabetes among African Americans, healthcare experts will focus on the core issues causing high cases of diabetes among this population. For instance, health promoters will address issues that hinder healthy living among Blacks, such as neighborhood safety, unavailability of health food stores, and accessibility of healthcare services (Pourhabibi et al., 2022). These health officers will collect first-hand data and make optimal recommendations on overcoming diabetes among African Americans. Besides, the community level entails socioeconomic aspects. Hence, the healthcare agencies will note the impact of poverty on diabetes rates among African Americans, creating a chance for optimal intervention. This move will help improve the health outputs of Black people and reduce diabetes among this group.
Public Policy/Societal Level
The U.S government has enacted policies to help fight diabetes. For instance, the U.S House of Representatives implemented a bill to eliminate disparities in diabetes care (Powell, 2022). This policy is fundamental to improving diabetes outcomes among African Americans, since racial disparity hinders optimal treatment among this demographic and other minorities. As noted above, African Americans formed 13.2% of total diagnosed cases in 2021, marking the severity of this condition. Diabetes disproportionately affects minority races, marking the benefit of this act in controlling diabetes. Furthermore, the federal government enacted the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in 1990, further discouraging discrimination against persons with disabilities and diabetes (Powell, 2022). Healthcare agencies should use these policies to reduce diabetes cases among African Americans by fighting disparities in medical care and access to diabetes education materials and other vital programs.
Conclusively, diabetes is a severe complication that disproportionately affects minorities, specifically African Americans. This population faces severer complications, such as vision loss and risk of chronic kidney conditions, than Whites. Thus, public health stakeholders should use the social-ecological model of health to control diabetes among African Americans. This model contains components that can guide public health experts in implementing diabetes countermeasures. These components include individual behavior, social networks, organizations, communities, and policies. Fundamentally, individuals should focus on individual behavior, such as dietary control and exercise, to improve diabetes outcomes. Various stakeholders, including government agencies and community health institutions, should collaborate in enacting diabetes prevention measures. For instance, the government should ensure equal access to healthy foods and security within exercise hubs. Public health agencies should prioritize African Americans when conducting community education initiatives since they are among the most affected groups. Fundamentally, the suggested measures a critical in reducing diabetes rates among African Americans and improving the population’s overall health outcomes.
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Haw, J. S., Shah, M., Turbow, S., Egeolu, M., & Umpierrez, G. (2021). Diabetes complications in racial and ethnic minority populations in the USA. Current diabetes reports, 21, 1-8.
Park, S., Zachary, W. W., Gittelsohn, J., Quinn, C. C., & Surkan, P. J. (2020). Neighborhood influences on physical activity among low-income African American adults with type 2 diabetes mellitus. The Diabetes Educator, 46(2), 181-190.
Pourhabibi, N., Mohebbi, B., Sadeghi, R., Shakibazadeh, E., Sanjari, M., Tol, A., & Yaseri, M. (2022). Determinants of Poor Treatment Adherence among Patients with Type 2 Diabetes and Limited Health Literacy: A Scoping Review. Journal of Diabetes Research, 2022.
Powell, R. (2022). Beyond Disability Rights: A Way Forward After the 2020 Election. Saint Louis Journal of Health Law & Policy (Forthcoming 2022).
Rodriguez-Saldana, J. (Ed.). (2023). The diabetes textbook: Clinical principles, patient management, and public health issues. Springer Nature.
Strings, S., Wells, C., Bell, C., & Tomiyama, A. J. (2023). The association of body mass index and odds of type 2 diabetes mellitus varies by race/ethnicity. Public Health, 215, 27-30.
Diabetes Research Institute. (2023). Cure-Focused Diabetes Research. DRIF. https://diabetesresearch.org/