Sugar Blues

Diabetes affects much more than your diet. And what you don't know about the disease could kill you.

be very difficult. Coleman, who holds regular diabetes education programs at black churches and conventions, notes that even when people know about their risk factors, they are still slow to change their habits.

“We have a pretty fatalistic view of life,” says Dr. Coleman. “We have given up control. We’re into this mode of ‘What will be, will be.’ I hear that a lot.”

But making lifestyle changes early-long before your 30s and 40s-can be the difference between life and death. Dr. Pryor suggests getting screened for diabetes at age 30 if you are overweight, African American, have a blood relative with diabetes or any combination of the above. “If you are diagnosed with diabetes [you have to] become very active in your care. The worst thing you can do is ignore it because, over time, it can cause a number of significant problems,” he says. He notes there are several medications on the market to help control Type II diabetes, such as sulfonylureas, which help the pancreas produce more insulin; biguanides, which lessens the amount of glucose the liver produces; and thiazolidinediones, which helps make blood cells more receptive to insulin.”It’s not a death sentence to get diagnosed with diabetes. It’s really a time to take action,” says Dr. Pryor.

Today Pemberton is a mutual fund analyst with Citigroup and is in good health. He has slimmed down but is content with his new physique and diet. When he was first diagnosed, he consulted dieticians at the Joslin Diabetes Center (www.joslinresearch .org) in Massachusetts to better handle his new lifestyle. He was surprised and relieved to learn that there were others like him. He’s grateful for having learned his lesson early. It’s one that has saved his life.

More Information on Diabetes
Diabetic Symptoms*:

  • Frequent urination
  • Excessive thirst
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Extreme hunger
  • Sudden vision changes
  • Tingling or numbness in hands or feet
  • Feeling very tired much of the time
  • Very dry skin
  • Sores that are slow to heal

Helpful Resources: oo The National Diabetes Education Program works at the state and local level delivering information about and providing services for African Americans living with diabetes. The program is sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institutes of Health. Get more information by calling 877-CDC-DIAB (877-232-3422), or by visiting www

Black& provides accurate, up- to-date information on the care and management of diabetes. The site is for health care providers and those in the minority community living with the disease.

Consumer members of the American Diabetes Association receive information on the association’s activities and programs; the latest technology and news; discounts on ADA cookbooks, meal planners, and lifestyle guides; an annual resource guide to diabetes supplies; and a monthly subscription to Diabetes Forecast magazine, which contains research, treatments, and tips for day-to-day coping with the disease. To purchase the $28 annual membership, visit the ADA at www, or call 800-DIABETES (800-342-2383).


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