Type 2 diabetes far more prevalent than type 1 in US, South LA

Aug. 29, 2012, 4:23 p.m.

Insulin is a key treatment against both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. (Jill A. Scott/Flickr Creative Commons)

Plenty of people know diabetes is a huge problem in the U.S., but fewer people know specifics about the different kinds.

According to HealthDay, one in 12 Americans has the disease, and cases of type 2 are far and away more prevalent than type 1 – about 90 to 95 percent of cases are of the former, while type 1 comprises up to 10 percent of cases.

People can develop type 2 diabetes at any time, and it usually begins with insulin resistance. That begins to happen when fat, muscle and liver cells don't use insulin properly; at first, a person's pancreas will produce more insulin to meet the body's demand, but that will eventually peter out.

Type 1, on the other hand, is a chronic disease which is most often diagnosed in children, teens or young adults. While with type 2, the pancreas produces too much or not enough insulin, type 1 causes little to no insulin to be produced.

Folks can develop type 2 diabetes if they're overweight and sedentary, and genetics also plays a big role in a person's development of the disease. The medical community still isn't quite sure what causes type 1.

(Rounding out the three major types of diabetes, according to the National Library of Medicine, is gestational diabetes, which is high blood sugar that commences or is first diagnosed during a woman's pregnancy.)

Dr. David Noya, a family physician at South Central Family Health Center, says type 2 diabetes is "hands down" more prevalent in South Los Angeles, attributing that to the hereditary nature of the disease, as well as the fact that it tends to be more common in the black and Latino communities, which comprise the majority of the southside's population.

Type 2 diabetes also goes hand-in-hand with obesity, Noya said, and South L.A. has some of the highest obesity rates in the county.

Lisa Cederblom, the clinical director at St. John's Well Child and Family Center, echoed that.

"Certainly less access to healthful foods does play a role in why we would see more [cases of type 2 diabetes] here," she said, adding that people with overly "starchy diets" could be adding to their risk.

"Lots of tortillas or breads and poor vegetable intake, and possibly a sedentary lifestyle – that could contribute to the development and expression of the illness," she said.

Cederblom also underscored the genetic factors at play with the disease.

"If your parents have type 2 diabetes, you're more likely to have your offspring go on at some point in their lives to develop the disease," she said.

In 2010, the Department of Public Health reported that nearly 14 percent of South L.A. residents had diabetes, down from the previous year but still the highest prevalence rate in the county.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on diabetes.

Photo by Jill A. Scott via Flickr Creative Commons.

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