The Correlations between African-American Life Experiences and Type 2 Diabetes

Whitney Griffith 1,2

  1. W. Montague Cobb Research Laboratory, Howard University
  2. Department of Computer Science, Howard University
The increasing prevalence of diabetes is considered problematic, as it is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States. The CDC’s 2014 National Diabetes Statistics Report states that in the US, 29.1 million people are living with diabetes out of which 13.2% (3,841,200) are African-Americans. Interestingly, this number is approximately 1.7 times more than the number of diabetic whites in the US. Diabetes is a disease that involves abnormal levels of blood glucose resulting from problems in how insulin is produced or works. There are two types of diabetes, Type 1, which is caused by the destruction of the insulin producing cells in the pancreas and Type 2, which is a result of insulin resistance among cells. Type 2 diabetes is described as a lifestyle disease as it develops due to specific risk factors in one’s life. This research intends to show that the prevalence of Type 2 diabetes among African Americans is not due to personal life choices but that it results from the stresses society places on African Americans such as residential, economic, and educational segregation. The Cobb Collection offers a special resource of the study of African Americans from the 19th and 20th century. It is highly suited for this research as it contains African Americans who were living in a time of Jim Crow Laws. Thus, individuals in the Cobb Collection that were diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes can be identified and their lifestyles analyzed in an attempt to indicate the environmentally- caused emotional, physical and nutritional stressors that contributed to their development of Type 2 Diabetes.
Cobb Lab