Improving Diabetes awareness in the black community

MOSS POINT, MS (WLOX) - Millions of Americans have Diabetes. It is the seventh leading cause of death in America, according to the Centers For Disease Control.

This disease touches so many lives, and in South Mississippi there is a growing concern about one particular segment of our community.  National statistics show that one in seven blacks has Diabetes. If you are black, you are twice as likely to develop the disease. A doctor told me it has a lot to do with what's being put on the dinner table.

Rev. James Magee said he can't eat his favorite sweets and sugars anymore now that he has Type 2 Diabetes.

"I couldn't believe it," Magee said.

Diabetes is the inability to control your blood sugar level. Magee said his two kids were also diagnosed.

"You don't eat right, you don't treat yourself right, you are going to end up with it."

"Type 2 Diabetes, it generally stems from obesity and your body is not getting enough insulin," Dr. Dionne Jackson said.

Singing River Health System's Dr. Jackson said often times in the black community there are unique eating habits, such as "soul food," passed down from generation to generation. But too many carbohydrates, fried meats, and starchy vegetables hurt the body.

"Grease lends itself to weigh gain, and that is the more insulin your body requires to process the sugar you are taking in."

"I remember since a child, cake, sweets, and pies were the order of the day," Moss Point resident Clifton Magee said.

Magee was diagnosed with Diabetes 10 years ago and changed his eating habits to successfully battle the disease. But several of his family members, including his mom, lost their fight.

"Sugar was like the drug."

Dr. Jackson said that's why it's important that everyone get screened, but still many don't.

"This can stem from several different causes: lack of insurance, lack of access to care, no knowledge of the disease process, and some people would prefer not to know."

Ignoring the problem could lead to serious complications, such as loss of vision and amputations.

"That is why I said it is important to utilize you resources. They have health fairs at your church or your school," Dr. Jackson said. "If you don't have health insurance, I know that Singing River Health System actually has a pay system that if you are willing to pay for your visit and labs, then we give a 40 percent discount."

Jackson also points out that making exercise a priority and watching what you eat are the best ways to reduce your risk and battle Diabetes.

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