Atlanta – Latinos have greater chances of developing Type 2 diabetes than the rest of the population, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is seeking to raise awareness about this risk during Hispanic Heritage Month.
According to figures compiled by the Atlanta-based CDC, Hispanics have a 66 percent greater chance than non-Hispanic whites of developing diabetes and Hispanic children also have a greater tendency to suffer from the disease.
"In general, Hispanics have double the risk of developing diabetes compared with non-Hispanic whites," Nilka Rios Burrows, an epidemiologist with the CDC Division of Diabetes, told Efe.
Diabetes is considered a serious public health problem in the United States, a country where about 18.8 million people have been diagnosed with the disease and about 7 million more live with it without having been diagnosed.
The expert said that understanding the disparity affecting Hispanics and other minority groups means taking into account both the risk factors that cannot be controlled as well as those that can be modified by lifestyle.
Rios Burrows said that among the factors that cannot be changed is a person's family medical history, genetic predisposition and the aging of the population.
"We also have other risk factors such as a diet high in calories and low in fiber and the lack of exercise, but it's those factors that we can change," Rios added.
Diabetes is the seventh-leading cause of death and the main cause of renal insufficiency and adult-onset blindness in the United States, as well as one of the main causes of heart problems.
"The good news, or the important thing, is that several studies have shown that those can be prevented and that these complications are the result of poorly controlled diabetes," she said.
The CDC recommends that people make small changes in daily activities to help prevent or control the effects of diabetes.
Eating healthy foods, getting some type of physical activity regularly and taking medications to keep diabetes, blood pressure and cholesterol under control can make a big different, according to Rios Burrows.
"By taking some very simple steps such as trying to bake (or) boil foods, not frying them, drinking water and adding fruits, vegetables and salads to the dishes we can make a big difference," said Rios Burrows.
The CDC has a number of resources available online in Spanish to help people who have diabetes or are at risk of developing it at http://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/spanish/controle/index.htm.