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Health Foundation Cites Racial Disparities In Diabetes

March 30, 2007
By SUSAN HAIGH, Associated Press

A new report from the Connecticut Health Foundation found that black people in Connecticut are dying prematurely of diabetes at a higher rate than whites, Hispanics and Asians.

Blacks in the state die before age 75 from diabetes nearly three times more often than whites, according to the 264-page report.

"That's a real issue, I think," said author Lorenz "Larry" Finison. "It is, we believe, bound to get worse because of the rates of increasing normal weight and obesity. It is not just a Connecticut problem, it is a national problem."

The foundation put together the Community Health Data Scan for Connecticut to help set funding and public policy priorities. The report, which focuses on racial and ethnic health disparities, recommends that the state fund diabetes prevention programs targeting black residents.

"The causal factors for diabetes, such as obesity, are becoming more prevalent in all age groups and in the whole population," the report reads. "This is a 'ticking time bomb' for the current and future adult population."

Dr. A. Dennis McBride, director of the Milford Public Health Department, said there are complex reasons - such as access to medical care, treatment and food choices - why one racial group may be more prone to diabetes than another. But he said rising obesity rates lead to greater rates of diabetes.

More than 53 percent of Connecticut adults were overweight as of 2000. The definitions of overweight and obese are based on body mass index, a measure of body fat that takes height and weight into account.

The report also found that nearly 31 percent of blacks 18 and older are considered obese under national guidelines, compared with nearly 16 percent of whites, nearly 22 percent of Hispanics, and 4.2 percent of Asians.

Connecticut's urban centers had more than twice the percentage of obese adults as the state's wealthy suburbs, the report said. Bridgeport in particular had a high percentage of overweight and obese adults. More than two-thirds of the city's adult residents were overweight and a quarter were obese.

Being overweight or obese also puts people at risk for other chronic diseases, including hypertension, heart disease, gall bladder disease and osteoarthritis.

The report warned that although immigrants to the state are less obese than people born in the U.S., this advantage appears to be disappearing as people assimilate into American culture.

Other recommendations from the report include ensuring that all state residents have a place to turn for primary medical care other than hospital emergency rooms; changing the culture around binge drinking and smoking, especially among white youths and young adults; and supporting out-of-school programs that help reduce teen pregnancy and promote the use of seat belts and bicycle helmets.

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
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