Asian American Diabetes cases: More than Half are Undiagnosed

PrintMany years ago I was amazed when The Wife, a Registered Nurse, looked at someone at a party and immediately (and correctly, more on that later), pointed out that the person was a diabetic.   I wondered how she figured that out, and after reading this National Institue of Health (NIH) press release about a recent study of diabetes occurrence in the US, it seems that the fact that the person was Asian American, and Filipino in particular, results in a higher probability that she was correct.   The NIH created the graphic to the left which shows that Asian Americans sampled have a much higher incidence of Diabetes than non-Hispanic whites and that half all Asian American cases are undiagnosed.

So why does this happen?   Asian American responses to some diabetes diagnostic techniques methods differs from other ethnic groups and often leads to diagnosis.   The study also mentions how the Asian healthy BMI range is different from others, leading to a better chance at misdiagnosis.   Also, I know many sedentary Asian Americans with poor eating habits who have diabetes.  Among these, Filipinos are among the most sedentary.

So what should Asian Americans do?  Not just Asian Americans but all Americans have a need for action, as diabetes is increasing among all ethnic groups and across all income levels.   A healthy diet and exercise are good preventative measures.   Getting tested is a good idea.   The study used blood sugar levels as their definitive test.  I get tested periodically as I have occasionally gotten in the pre-diabetic range.

You might be curious as to how The Wife figured out that the person was diabetic.  With diabetics who need dialysis, you can sometimes see the scarring on their arms and figure it out.  That wasn’t it, though.  The Wife saw the pallor in his complexion, the fact that he was sweating more than others, and his general lack of energy.  Those clues, along with his ethnicity, lead her to a solid conclusion.



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About Jeff

Jeff lives in Silicon Valley, and attempts to juggle marriage, fatherhood, computer systems research, running, and writing.
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