Location, Location, Location: Diabetes and Geography

close-up of hand placing red pins on a map (geography concept)

A new study by Jacques Lowe of the Carle Illinois College of Medicine has shown that Florida and Texas have a high percentage of people with long-term and short-term diabetes complications. Such research could help the government direct medical support to where it is needed most. The findings are also a call for you to test for diabetes if you live in the hot-spot areas.

The researchers created a map of the hot-spot areas in the US, showing various diabetic complications and the demographic information of these areas. These complications include nerve damage, chronic kidney disease, heart disease, and oral, foot, and vision problems.

Race and diabetes

Research conducted in Chicago, Michigan, Detroit, and Illinois shows that marginalized communities are at a higher risk of diabetes than their counterparts in high-end neighborhoods. The research revealed that black adolescents living in racially segregated regions were highly likely to have type 1 diabetes.

The researchers evaluated RSS (racial residential segregation) among 144 diabetic youths with an average age of 13.3. RSS refers to structural racism associated with increased anxiety and stress and limited access to resources. From the calculations, their location quotient (LQ) was found to be 3.04 (with a standard deviation of 1.49), meaning they were living in a highly segregated neighborhood. These results proved that black people living in segregated neighborhoods had a higher risk of type 1 diabetes.

The research concluded that residential segregation contributes to health inequity for children living with diabetes in the US. This calls for immediate action by healthcare experts. They must move quickly to address social segregation to reduce the national type 1 diabetes burden.

Are you at risk of diabetes?

The research by Lowe and his colleagues revealed high rates of long-term diabetes complications in Texas and Florida. In contrast, there are low rates in the West and Great Plains counties.

Short-term diabetic complications were also found to be high in Texas and Florida, and on the West Coast. Cold spots had lower rates of black and Hispanic diabetes patients than hot spots. Diabetes was found to be common in densely populated areas.

Lowe said the findings are significant because they can help the government and healthcare providers concentrate more on mitigating diabetes complications in areas where help is needed most.

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