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Blacks Have Poorer Control of Diabetes Than Whites

A new review of the data from 56,000 patients shows that blacks with diabetes tend to have worse control of the disease than whites. The finding could explain why black patients are typically at increased risk for diabetes-linked complications and death, the researchers said.

"This confirms what doctors have known," added Dr. Larry C. Deeb, president of medicine and science for the American Diabetes Association and a professor of social and behavioral medicine at Florida State University College of Medicine.
"What this study does is take all the [published] papers they could find and show that, across the board, the African-Americans have an increased risk," said Deeb, who was not involved in the research.

"We took all these studies [and] combined all the data from each individual study. The findings confirmed what the individual studies had already found, Bell said. "But a meta-analysis can give you more evidence to say [the finding] with more confidence," he said.

The data included information on more than 42,000 white and 14,000 black patients with diabetes. Most were older than 50 and had type 2 diabetes, the most common, obesity-linked form of the illness. The researchers looked at the results of a blood test called the A1C, which provides an average of blood sugars for 90 days.

In the study, blacks had an A1C, on average, that was 0.65 percent higher than that of whites. While no averages were calculated by the researchers by race, "the range of A1C values across the 11 studies was 7.3 percent to 9.4 percent for whites and 7.6 percent to 11.4 percent for blacks.

A numbers of reasons may explain the differences, the researchers said, including differences in quality of care, intensity of treatment, or in insurance coverage, such as prescription drug coverage. Genetic differences may explain the gap, too.
Diabetes Care. Sept 2006

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