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Diabetes in La. is higher for African American men

Published: Jul. 26, 2021 at 1:15 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Diabetes is a common disease in America but in Louisiana, it’s too common. According to the Americas Health Rankings website, diabetes is more prevalent in Louisiana than many other states in the country, ranking among the worst for the disease.

“I’m not surprised actually,” said Dr. Griggs. “That follows the trend Louisiana has been for a while with diabetes and other chronic conditions.”

Health educator Dr. Eric Griggs believes diabetes will continue to rise in Louisiana and said the pandemic has contributed to the rise. “There’s a lot of sanitary lifestyle, a lot of comfort eating,” said Dr. Griggs. “A lot of people who were pre-diabetic are now diabetic.”

However, one group of people have a higher percentage of diabetes in Louisiana, African American men. Dr. Griggs said it’s higher because of genetics but also the stubbornness of not going to the doctors.

“From the time we were little, from a child and teenager, it’s usually something bad,” Dr. Griggs said. “You either tell them you can go to school, you can’t go play, you gotta’ get a shot, you broke your arm, you broke your leg. You broke something.”

“But then you’re in your thirties, you go to the doctors for a quick checkup,” Dr. Griggs said. “Blood sugar might be a little too high or blood pressure a little too high then you say, ‘I’m not going see I told you.”

Although diabetes can be treated with a drastic lifestyle change, Dr. Griggs said the thing that fuels diabetes is the lack of understanding and access to care.

“Taking time to really educate people where they are is a huge solution,” said Dr. Griggs. “Unfortunately, those communities with higher rates of chronic illness tends to mirror lack of access care, health literacy, and lack of equity.”

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