A plague in the African American community, diabetes continues to impact a growing number of lives. The American Diabetes Association estimates that nearly 24 million children and adults in the United States have the disease, and an additional 57 million Americans are at risk for developing diabetes. The ADA also estimates that 15% of blacks aged 20 years or older have been diagnosed with diabetes.
To bring awareness to diabetes, especially the most common form among African Americans, Dr. Andrea Pennington, a holistic practitioner and founder of the Pennington Institute for Health & Wellness in Maryland, launched an awareness campaign, in January. Established to empower Americans to reverse and manage Type 2 diabetes, the most common form of diabetes amongst African Americans, the Diabetes Proof campaign provides members with weight loss and prevention information as part of a television and wellness center-based program to in institution a number of programs for this community effort.
BlackEnterprise.com talked to Dr. Pennington to learn more about the impact of Type 2 diabetes on African Americans and her Diabetes Proof campaign.
BlackEnterprise.com: How big of a problem is Type 2 diabetes in the African American community?
Dr. Andrea Pennington: African Americans and Latinos with diabetes are more likely to develop diabetes complications and experience greater disability from the complications than white Americans with diabetes. Efforts to educate, monitor and manage Type 2 diabetes among people of color often fall short with respect to tight blood sugar control, follow-up care, foot and eye exams, and nutrition and fitness goals. This leads to a disproportionate rate of preventable diabetes complications and death.
The situation is even worse in the black community due to lack of awareness and the fact that you can’t find fresh fruits and vegetables in many of these neighborhoods. A lack of knowledge is a dangerous thing these days. Combine it with a lack of self-care and you have an entire segment of the population under attack from diabetes.
What are its main causes?
The main causes are overconsumption of highly processed foods and sugar, overweight/obesity, and inactivity.
Type 2 diabetes, formerly called adult-onset or noninsulin-dependent diabetes, is the most common form of diabetes. People can develop Type 2 diabetes at any age, even during childhood. This form of diabetes usually begins with insulin resistance, a condition in which fat, muscle, and liver cells do not use insulin properly. At first, the pancreas keeps up with the added demand by producing more insulin. In time, however, it loses the ability to secrete enough insulin in response to meals.
What is the goal of the campaign?
Diabetes Proof is a national lifestyle paradigm shift and awareness campaign to unite and empower Americans to actively transform their whole life to prevent, reverse and manage Type 2 diabetes while embarking on a path toward total wellness.
With compelling television, radio, print, third party collaboration and public speaking engagements this campaign will sweep the nation as a lifestyle movement over the next 12 months and become a household topic of conversation. Millions of people with Type 2 diabetes, those at risk for developing the condition, and those who are terrified of contracting the disease will be mobilized in an online virtual community at www.DiabetesProof.org.