What Type of Disease is Diabetes
Confronting Diabetes in High-Risk Populations
Some populations have higher rates of diabetes. African Americans, Hispanic Americans, American Indians, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders develop type 2 diabetes more often than white Americans. But obesity and physical inactivity may be greater risk factors than a person’s genes.
Diabetes is a disease in which the body has problems producing or using insulin, a hormone needed to convert sugar, starches and other food into energy. For people living a Western lifestyle—with low physical activity levels and a high-fat, high-sugar, low-fiber diet—a family history of type 2 diabetes is one of the strongest risk factors for getting the disease. But people living in non-Westernized areas appear to get less type 2 diabetes regardless of their genetic risk.
“We know that there are genetic factors involved, but it’s clear that lifestyle, food habits and the amount of physical activity play very important roles in the development of type 2 diabetes,” Dr. Saul Malozowski of NIH’s National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases explained.