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Addressing Health Disparities in Diabetes

Some groups of people are affected by prediabetes and diabetes more than other groups. Differences in health status or access to health care among racial, ethnic, geographic, and socioeconomic groups are referred to as health disparities.

The following charts show the percentage diagnosed diabetes in five ethnic groups. Estimates in the charts do not differentiate between type 1 and type 2 diabetes. However, because type 2 diabetes accounts for 90% to 95% of all diabetes cases, the data presented are likely to be more characteristic of type 2 diabetes.

What is CDC Doing to Address Disparities?

CDC’s diabetes prevention and educational programs and initiatives are working to end health disparities in high-risk and vulnerable populations. The following programs address specific groups of people in several US locations. Links to more information on each program is provided.

National Diabetes Prevention Program

The CDC-led National Diabetes Prevention Program (National DPP) is a partnership of public and private organizations working together to deliver an affordable, evidence-based lifestyle change program to help people with prediabetes prevent or delay type 2 diabetes. However, some racial and ethnic minority groups are enrolling in the program at lower rates than other groups. To help increase access, CDC recently funded 10 national organizations to start new in-person programs in underserved areas (regions with fewer resources to address health disparities). In addition to in-person delivery, the program can also be delivered online, by distance learning, and through a combination of these formats. Working with a trained lifestyle coach, program participants learn to make better food choices, be more physically active, and find ways to cope with problems and stress. These lifestyle changes can cut their risk of developing type 2 diabetes by as much as 58% (71% for those over 60).

Appalachian Diabetes Control and Translation

Many of the 25 million people in Appalachia face serious and unique health challenges influenced by their socioeconomic status, rural location, and culture. The Appalachian Region includes 420 counties in 13 states that follows the spine of the Appalachian Mountains. The Appalachian Diabetes Control and Translation Project is designed to reduce the impact of type 2 diabetes among people who live in high-risk, economically distressed Appalachian communities by expanding public engagement and promoting behavioral change; scaling and sustaining the National Diabetes Prevention Program; sustaining and expanding regional coalitions; and leveraging local resources.

Native Diabetes Wellness Program

Native Americans (American Indians and Alaska Natives) are more likely to have type 2 diabetes than any other US racial group. The Native Diabetes Wellness Program honors a balance between cultural practices and western science in Indian Country to promote health and help prevent type 2 diabetes among Native Americans who are at risk. The program supports wellness and diabetes awareness by collecting and retelling stories about tribal efforts to reclaim traditional foods; developing a series of colorful books for children to promote healthy eating and physical activity; and providing access to other helpful resources, all free to order or download.

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