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Diabetes and COVID-19: why some communities are more at risk

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Members of these ethnic groups are also among those most affected by COVID-19. In Toronto, they accounted for 83% of COVID-19 cases according to statistics released in July 2021 by Toronto Public Health.

The lack of physical activity during confinement could also lead to an increase of more than 11 million cases of diabetes in the world, indicated Brazilian researchers in a report last year.

Seema Nagpal looks at the camera.

Seema Nagpal, Vice President of Diabetes Canada

Photo: TurnedNews.com

In Canada, poor access to physical activity is one of the main causes of the increase in the number of diabetics, notes Seema Nagpal, vice-president of Diabetes Canada. We see higher rates in the South Asian community, the African, Caribbean and Black community, and also the Chinese community, she says.

According to Diabetes Canada, among South Asians, the prevalence rate of type 2 diabetes is 8.5%, three to six times higher than the general population.

Among people from African, Caribbean and Black communities, the prevalence rate is 8.1.

André Carpentier looks at the camera.

André Carpentier also holds the Chair in Molecular Imaging of Diabetes in Canada.

Photo: TurnedNews.com

These figures do not surprise André Carpentier, endocrinologist and director of the Center de recherche du Center hospitalier de l’Université de Sherbrooke. In particular, he cites genetic factors among the reasons for the high numbers of cases in these communities. We know that people in these countries seem to suffer the most from diabetes, cardiovascular and renal complications more than Caucasian populations, whether here in Canada, the United States or Europe., he said.

People of these ethnic origins tend to accumulate more fat that is inside the belly and which is particularly harmful given the risk associated with its accumulation for diabetes and cardiovascular disease among others. »

A quote from Dr. André Carpentier

The endocrinologist adds that heart complications put these people at higher risk of developing serious complications from COVID-19.

Diabetes is the second most prevalent chronic non-communicable disease among people infected with COVID-19

Maria Smith Williams of Brampton has lived with type 2 diabetes for 8 years. She reports that the pandemic is having an impact on the management of her disease. Before the pandemic, I used to go to the gym a lot, which is not the case now. Also, I no longer see my endocrinologist in person, although I don’t really mind.

Be extra careful

A homeless person sitting on a park bench.

For Health Canada, racism is a public health crisis.

Photo: TurnedNews.com / Ivanoh Demers

Seema Nagpal calls for redoubled efforts to fight and prevent diabetes in populations most at risk of suffering from this disease.

Tackling the rising rate of diabetes and improving the health of people from communities at high risk for type 2 diabetes requires addressing key issues, such as systemic racism. »

A quote from Seema Nagpal, Vice President, Diabetes Canada

According to the vice-president of Diabetes Canada, the factors cultural and genetic are also among the causes of type 2 diabetes in some ethnic communities. However, she believes that members of ethnic groups face unique obstacles and challenges related to the prevention and management of diabetes.

2″,”text”:”Lower socio-economic status, lower level of education are directly linked to many chronic diseases, including type 2 diabetes”}}”>Lower socioeconomic status, lower level of education are directly linked to many chronic diseases, including type 2 diabetes, says Ms. Nagpal.

Seema Nagpal indicates in particular that the more precarious economic situation of certain characters in these communities does not facilitate healthy eating. It’s much harder to make healthy choices when you already have challenges ahead.

More, when a person or family experiences racism from the health system or other institutions, trust and access are undermined , she complains.

members of the black community [ par exemple ] hardly benefit from prevention and early detection programs [ du diabète ]. »

A quote from Seema Nagpal

Maria Smith Williams claims to have never been the victim of systemic racism because of her illness. I know it exists from what I hear from other people, but I haven’t experienced it.

Maria Smith Williams seated in front of a shelf on which several books are filed.

Maria Smith Williams raises awareness for others with diabetes through her Instagram account, Thehealthydiabetic.

Photo: TurnedNews.com

She says that often the cultural aspects [des minorités] are not always taken into account in the management of this disease .

According to André Carpentier, prevention of diabetes among people at high risk requires a good analysis of risky behaviors. It is necessary to go around the environment and the preferences (especially food) of people to better advise them, he explains. The doctor encourages the individualized approach which identifies barriers specific to the individual.

Since being diagnosed with diabetes, Maria Smith Williams, has been careful with her diet The everyday food choice is one of the most important things. For example, I pay attention to the consumption of chocolate, she explains.

With the right information, good nutrition and regular physical activity, you can still live your best life yet., she believes.

Symptoms to watch out for

A person shows off their belly fat through their sweater.

Although all the causes of diabetes are unknown, poor diet in young people and adults can cause type 2 diabetes.

Photo: iStock

It is difficult to diagnose diabetes without a laboratory test, explains Dr. Carpentier. You can be diabetic for several years without knowing it.

The diabetes expert nevertheless draws attention to a few signs that should be of concern: increased urinary frequency, dehydration, dizziness, weakness…

Apart from these signs, André Carpentier adds the acanthosis nigricans.

It is spaces of thickening and blackening of the skin particularly in the folds at the level of the neck or the armpits , he describes.

According to the doctor, these black spots indicate insulin resistance.2 is insulin resistance.”,”text”:”One of the important causative factors in the development of the course of type 2 diabetes is insulin resistance.”}}”>One of the important causative factors in the development of the course of type 2 diabetes is insulin resistance.

According to Seema Nagpal, 95% of adolescents with type 2 diabetes have obesity and 73% have clinical signs of insulin resistance manifesting as acanthosis nigricans.

To reduce the risk of suffering from diabetes, Dr. Carpentier recommends having a healthy lifestyle, controlling stress, practicing physical exercises and eating a balanced diet.

Diabetes affects nearly 3 million Canadians and approximately 1.5 million people live there with the disease, but without knowing it.

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