Impact of Diabetes on Racial/Ethnic Minorities

  • November 13, 2014

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By Dr. Chidi Achebe, MD, MPH, MBA, Adult and Family Medicine

Diabetes Mellitus is a chronic disease that disproportionately affects racial and economically disadvantaged minority groups in America. Today nearly one third of all Americans are at risk. Over 100 million Americans have been diagnosed with some form of glucose intolerance: Diabetes Mellitus, which affects approximately 25 million people, or Pre-Diabetes with several sources revealing over 80 million people to be reported with the diagnosis.

The impact of diabetes on our society is staggering. Various studies place the economic cost at between $200 -250 million annually. The cost looms higher if one takes into account the national price tag for dialysis, which costs over $6 billion a year!

Comorbid, or co-occurring conditions, that can be associated with diabetes, include renal failure (kidney failure), myocardial infarction of acute coronary syndrome (heart attacks), cerebrovascular accidents (strokes), neuropathy (nerve damage) that often leads to limb amputation, and diabetic retinopathy (progressive visual loss to blindness).

Ethnic/Racial Disparities

African-Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans, Pacific Islanders and Asians currently have a higher prevalence of diabetes, including a higher rate of complications, compared to Caucasians. On average, the conglomeration of African-Americans, Hispanics and Native Americans bear a 50-100% greater burden of becoming effected by the disease and experience greater mortality from diabetes.


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Whittier Street’s Contribution to Community Wellness

Diabetes Clinic

Experience and expertise. Whittier doctors have expertise in treating people with all types of diabetes, including those with hard-to-control blood sugar.

Education.  Whittier Street Health Center offers a comprehensive educational program integrated in our Diabetes Clinic, as well as our group sessions, that give patients the tools and information to better control their blood sugars and lead a healthier and more productive life.

Multi-specialty team of experts. Whittier employs an integrated team approach with the use of a group of specialists to create a customized treatment plan for each patient. Our team includes a doctor, diabetes educator, an in-house pharmacist and registered dietitian, who all work collaboratively to manage and maintain each patient’s blood sugar level. Whittier also offers the services of eye care and podiatry (foot care) that diabetes patients regularly need. Referral and prompt access to kidney and other specialists are also readily available when needed.

Diabetes Group Visits

At Whittier Street Health Center, group visits are an innovative way to help patients with chronic diseases better control their health. The groups assemble once a month in two distinct clusters and serve as important vehicles to reach a large number of patients at one session. The overall goal of the group sessions is to improve management of Diabetes Mellitus in order to reduce the physical, fiscal and psychological burden of the disease.

For more information, please call Whittier Street Health Center at 617-427-1000 and make an appointment.


All references and statistics are from:


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A note about Whittier and COVID-19

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak in our area, we ask all clients and patients to call ahead before coming to any of our sites. We are working to take care of most clients/patients via phone/video encounter so we can meet your ongoing healthcare needs. This is for your safety and so we can provide the highest quality of care to you while following CDC guidance for COVID-19. Please call 617-427-1000 for any questions or concerns.

Whittier will provide COVID-19 testing from 10 am to 4 pm on Monday to Friday. Following CDC guidance, we recommend testing if you have a fever AND one of the following three symptoms: cough OR shortness of breath OR sore throat. Please bring your picture identification and your insurance card (if you have insurance).