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Diabetes: what you need to know

Small Decisions Matter

Chances are that you or someone you know is dealing with diabetes. It’s a serious issue in our community. Diabetes is the 8th leading cause of death for all Minnesotans but is the 5th leading cause of death for Black and African American Minnesotans. According to the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH), diabetes is also the leading cause of leg amputations, kidney failure, and blindness. Diabetes is real. But small decisions can help prevent it or make it more manageable. Knowing the facts can make all the difference.

Diabetes is a serious condition affecting nearly 37 million Americans. All forms of the disease are caused by blood sugar levels that are higher than normal. This is a result of the body not producing or properly using insulin, a hormone that converts food into energy needed by the body. 


Among Black men, the prevalence of type 2 diabetes has increased 160% between 1980 and 2020.

There is also a greater risk for men of color to develop type 2 diabetes and having complications once diagnosed when compared to white men.

Black men also experience more complications due to diabetes than other groups.

The Minnesota Department of Health states that men of color living in Minnesota are 2-5 times more likely than Asian and non-Hispanic whites to have diabetes. 




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Hurt et al. 2020
Graham & Garcia, 2012, Walker et al, 2018, & Sherman et al., 2018 3 Sherman 2018




The different forms of the disease are:

Type 1 diabetes – an autoimmune disease most often seen in children but can happen at any age. People with type 1 diabetes must take insulin daily to live.

Type 2 diabetes – the most common form of diabetes found in 90-95% of people with diabetes. When the body stops using insulin appropriately, it’s a gradual process, so many people have no symptoms at first. Type 2 is now being seen in children and young adults due to obesity and other risk factors.

Gestational diabetes – a condition where blood sugar levels are higher than normal during pregnancy. Blood sugar levels usually return to normal after your baby is born, but it increases the risk for type 2 diabetes later in life for you and your baby.

Prediabetes – occurs when blood sugar levels are higher than normal but not yet high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes. Prediabetes can develop into type 2 diabetes but is thought to be reversible with lifestyle changes.

Diabetes complications can affect nearly every part of the body. If blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol are not kept within a healthy range, people are more likely to experience poor health and an early death.

From what you eat to how you move, small decisions matter. 

Move your body, even for as little as 15 minutes each day.
Drink water instead of soda and other sugary drinks.
Eat fruits or veggies wherever you can squeeze them in. They can be great snacks, too! Talk to a health care provider about your diet, physical activity, and medications.

For more information about diabetes, visit the MDH Diabetes webpage.
You can also contact MDH by phone at 651-201-5435 or email at

You cannot hope to build a better world without improving the individuals. To that end, each of us must work for his own improvement and, at the same time, share a general responsibility for all humanity, our particular duty being to aid those to whom we think we can be most useful.
- Marie Curie

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