This weekend marked the start of Hispanic Heritage Month (Sept. 15 – Oct. 15), and to celebrate the American Diabetes Association is calling on people to increase their physical activity and take steps to Stop Diabetes. Throughout the month, the Association will hold education sessions, health screenings and other events in Hispanic/Latino communities across the country to help raise awareness of the disease.
Why? Nearly 26 million adults and children are living with diabetes in the United States, and Hispanics/Latinos are 66 percent more likely to have diagnosed diabetes compared to non-Hispanic Caucasians. This community also has a higher risk of complications from diabetes, such as retinopathy. And Latinas are 50 percent more likely to develop gestational diabetes during pregnancy.
These are scary statistics, but we believe that getting information to the Hispanic/Latino community about the seriousness of diabetes and providing resources to help lower their risk and manage the disease is essential. We hope our Hispanic Heritage Month initiative will contribute to people leading healthier lives by becoming more physically active and more empowered about steps they can take to Stop Diabetes.
Exercising works well to help reduce obesity and the risk of type 2 diabetes. Walking is an easy way to get started, but any activity will do. So get out your sneakers, strap on that pedometer, turn on some good music — whatever gets you moving! And if you haven’t recently, consider getting screened so you know important health numbers such as blood glucose level, blood pressure and cholesterol.
Many Hispanics/Latinos feel guilty spending time and money on their personal health. They feel selfish putting their own health care ahead of their family’s needs. The opposite should be true. Your family needs you to be healthy and feeling your best, so that you can be there for them. Visit the Association’s website to learn more about Por Tu Familia and the Association’s other Hispanic/Latino community programs.
Celebrate your Hispanic heritage! Take steps to Stop Diabetes for yourself, for your family and for your community.
Victor H. Gonzalez, MD
Chair, Latino Diabetes Action Council
American Diabetes Association