Abstract - Eleonor Leger

Rates of Type II diabetes are significantly higher in low-income minority groups such as African Americans as compared to other non-minority groups. The US Department of Health and Human Services states that African Americans are almost twice as likely to be diagnosed with diabetes as non-Hispanic whites. While Type II diabetes is a medical condition, Type II diabetes is a complex disease, influenced not only, as some research report, genetic susceptibilities triggered by an individualís behaviors but also influenced by social, environmental, psychological, and cultural factors. This paper shows that it is essential to identify and consider the social and environmental conditions found in at-risk communities that increases risk for Type II diabetes in order to better understand its prevalence in minorities such as African Americans.

Reviewing published studies and journal articles from scientific databases under the search terms of diabetes, prevention, risk factors, metabolic syndrome, health literacy, environment, food, health disparity and community, this paper examines Type II diabetes as a social disease and therefore as an indicator of a larger health and social disparity found in low- income minority communities. Studying both the interpersonal risk factors- misperception of prevention and lifestyle, and communal-environmental risk factor of the food environment, the paper argues that high prevalence of Type II diabetes results from the social and physical factors that condition for high rates of Type II diabetes in African American communities. It is the thought that with an earlier and culturally relevant prevention initiative that the high rates of Type II diabetes in African American communities can be properly addressed. Health interventions therefore must incorporate cultural features appropriate to at-risk groups, but also take into account the specific social and physical barriers found in minority communities in preventing in preventing type II diabetes.


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