Diabetes Rates Among Minorities in Los Angeles County Increasing, Health Officials Say
Diabetes rates for Hispanics and blacks in Los Angeles County were nearly double the rates for whites and Asians/Pacific Islanders in 2005, Los Angeles County Department of Public Health officials said on Monday, the Los Angeles Daily News reports.
According to Jonathan Fielding, the county public health department director, about 8.8% of the Los Angeles County population, or 600,000 adults, in 2005 reported having diabetes, compared with 6.6% in 1997. Researchers said that the rate of diabetes is underreported and that many residents may not know they have the condition. Forty-one percent of the county's diabetics were obese, health experts said. Health officials said the high rates of obesity and diabetes might stem in part from residents living in low-income neighborhoods where there is limited access to affordable fresh fruits and vegetables.
Fielding said, "We need to not only stop the continuing increase in this serious disease, (but also) we need to reduce the disparities so that the disease burden does not fall disproportionately on specific groups." Gayle Schachne, director for the San Fernando and Santa Clarita Valley Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, said diabetes is "presenting itself in the Hispanic community and we are concerned about it," adding, "We are concerned with the amount of sugary juices people are drinking."
The public health department has recommended several strategies to improve residents' diets, including filling county vending machines with healthier snacks and drinks; making affordable, nourishing food available at corner stores in low-income neighborhoods; and encouraging restaurants to provide nutrition information on their menus (Abram, Los Angeles Daily News, 8/6).