Articles & Recipes

Diabetes in Multicultural Communities

November 3, 2018

In North America, we are lucky to live in culturally rich communities. However, some of these communities have been identified as having a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes or heart disease than the rest of the North American population.

Some of these include the South Asian, Chinese, Pacific Islander, Hispanic, African-American, Native American/Aboriginal and Caribbean communities. Experts are not sure why, when people move to North America from these regions, their health becomes worse.

A theory called the healthy immigrant effect states that most people demonstrate good health when they first arrive in a new country such as the United States or Canada. After some time, however, their health worsens, perhaps due to changes in their diet, their level of physical activity, the accessibility of medical services or the amount of stress they experience. These environmental factors, combined with pre-existing genetic factors, can lead to a higher risk of diabetes.

One common lifestyle change could well be a switch from the traditional diet of their home country to a more North American diet that is higher in fat, sugar and salt. Genetic factors also lead these communities to develop prediabetes or type 2 diabetes at higher rates than other populations, and at a younger age. They also have poorer management of their blood glucose levels and higher rates of complications, such as heart disease, at a younger age than the general North American population.

If you feel you or a family member is at high risk of diabetes, it’s best to go see your health-care provider and get your blood glucose levels tested.

Find more information as well as internationally inspired recipes in 150 Best Indian, Asian, Caribbean and More Diabetes Recipes by registered dietitian and professor in food and nutrition, Sobia Khan.

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