Risk Factors for Diabetes in African American Men and How to Avoid Them

Diabetes is a global epidemic and it seems to affect black people more than whites. According to the statistics, diabetes is 50%-100% more prevalent among African-Americans compared to whites. According to the CDC data, the African-American black men are gaining on women in their overall rates of diabetes.

So what makes black men prone to diabetes? Let’s find out!

  1. Depression

Researchers have noticed a strong link between depression and diabetes. The incidence of depression among blacks is significantly higher than members of other ethnic groups. There might be a variety of reasons to why African-Americans are more prone to be depressed.

According to researchers, most of the African-Americans still live in segregated neighborhoods with higher rates of crime, poverty, homelessness, and abuse. Moreover, only 38% of the African-American kids in the US are raised by two parents compared to 69% kids from other ethnicities. These and a lot of other factors contribute to the increased risk of depression and subsequently diabetes among African-American men.

Solution: Here are some options that can help you deal with your depression:

  • Look for support: It does not mean you have to necessarily talk to a member of your family. It can be anyone who can listen to you compassionately without being judgmental.
  • Get social: Social isolation fosters depression. You might want to retreat to your shell when you’re depressed, but it only worsens your depression. Being social and interacting with people helps you feel better.
  • Try yoga: A session of peaceful yoga or meditate is also helpful in getting your mind off all the depressive and stressful thoughts.
  • Consult an expert: If nothing else works, it is never a bad idea to consult an expert like your GP, psychiatrist or psychologist.
  1. Obesity

Obesity is one of the major risk factors for type II diabetes as it promotes resistance to insulin. According to an American study, almost 65% of the newly diagnosed black diabetic men have body weights above the desirable limits compared only 38% whites diabetic males with weight over the limits.

Another factor that may increase the risk of diabetes in African-American males is the distribution of fat. The central distribution of fat (around the belly) is associated with a greater risk of diabetes and heart disease compared to fat stored elsewhere in the body. The African-Americans are more likely to have a central distribution of fat and, therefore, more likely to have diabetes as well.

Solution: The solution to this problem is eating a healthy diet and engaging in physical activity. This is explained in detail in the coming sections.

  1. Lack of Physical Activity

Lack of physical activity causes diabetes in a number of different ways. Not only does it promote obesity but makes your body cells more resistant to the action of insulin as well. This way, having a sedentary lifestyle increases the risk of type 2 diabetes.

A research conducted across members of different ethnic backgrounds compared the level of their physical activity. Results showed that compared to whites, members of almost all other ethnicities (including blacks) engaged far less in physical activities.

Solution: According to recommendations, you should involve yourself in light intensity exercises for at least 20-30 minutes every day for 5 days a week.

You don’t always have to go to the gym to be physically active. You can integrate changes into your daily routine to make yourself more active physically. For example:

  • You can walk to the grocery store instead of driving.
  • You can climb stairs couple of times a day.
  • You can go out on a walk with your pet.
  • You can play some games with your friends or family.
  • You can try body weight exercise like squats, push-ups, crunches etc. at the comfort of your home.
  1. Unhealthy Diet

Another important risk factor for diabetes is eating a diet rich in fat and low in fiber and other essential nutrients. Research suggests that African-Americans eat fewer fruits and vegetables compared to whites, which might give another clue to why they are more prone to have diabetes.

Solution: Making changes in your dietary pattern is extremely important when protecting yourself against diabetes. You should try to eat more fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, oily fish, vegetable oil.


  1. Spanakis EK, Golden SH. Race/ethnic difference in diabetes and diabetic complications. Curr Diab Rep. 2013;13(6):814–23.
  2. Gaskin DJ, Thorpe Jr RJ, McGinty EE, Bower K, Rohde C, Young JH, et al. Disparities in diabetes: the nexus of race, poverty, and place. Am J Public Health. 2014;104(11):2147–55.
  3. Insaf TZ, Strogatz DS, Yucel RM, Chasan-Taber L, Shaw BA. Associations between race, lifecourse socioeconomic position and prevalence of diabetes among US women and men: results from a population-based panel study. J Epidemiol Community Health. 2014;68(4):318–25.
  4. Hasson RE, Adam TC, Pearson J, Davis JN, Spruijt-Metz D, Goran MI. Sociocultural and socioeconomic influences on type 2 diabetes risk in overweight/obese African-American and Latino-American children and adolescents. J Obes. 2013;2013:512914.
  5. Unger JB, Reynolds K, Shakib S, Spruijt-Metz D, Sun P, Johnson CA. Acculturation, physical activity, and fast-food consumption among Asian-American and Hispanic adolescents. J Community Health. 2004;29(6):467–81.
  6. https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/statistics/prev/national/figraceethsex.htm
  7. Kristin J. August. Racial/Ethnic Disparities in Exercise and Dietary Behaviors of Middle-Aged and Older Adults. J Gen Intern Med. 2011 Mar; 26(3): 245–250.
Facebook Comments