Health & Fitness

Pacific Islanders at Risk


No group is immune to the threat of diabetes. But some groups have higher incidence of the disease than others. In the United States, the highest rates of diabetes appear to be among people of Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander descent. In 2007, more than a fifth of people in this category — 20.6% — had diabetes. That’s three times the rate among whites, 6.8% of whom are diabetic, and about double the rate among Latinos (11.1%) and Asians (8.9%). 

This unfortunate distinction is nothing new. Studies in 1998 and 1963 also showed a high prevalence of diabetes among Native Hawaiians. Micronesians such as Chamorros also have high rates of the disease: A 2006 study found a 16.2% rate of the disease among this group.

Diabetes is particularly prevalent among Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders who have adopted more American lifestyles. Obesity and physical inactivity within these groups may explain the high rates of the disease.

Diabetes damages health in a number of ways. People with diabetes are more likely to die from cardiovascular disease, stroke and renal disease. Also, diabetes sufferers have a lower  health-related quality of life. Diabetes is also related to an excess risk of hepatocellular carcinoma, the main form of liver cancer, and being overweight likely contributes to this.

 

Source: Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum



 

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