Diabetes mortality rates in the United States were more than twice as high for Black adults compared with white adults from 2008 to 2017, according to a study published in Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice.

The leading cause of diabetes mortality inequities is likely due to issues of systemic racism and oppression. Diabetes mortality rates were calculated from 2008 to 2017 using data from the National Vital Statistics System multiple cause-of-death data file. Diabetes mortality included any death in which diabetes was listed as the underlying cause. Diabetes mortality rates were calculated for the 30 largest U.S. cities according to U.S. Census Bureau data from 2013. American Community Survey estimates from 2010 and 2015 were used to calculate the white population size. U.S. Census Bureau data from 2010 and American Community Survey estimates from 2015 were used to calculate the Black population size. Diabetes mortality rates were also calculated for five years from 2008 to 2012 and another five years from 2013 to 2017.

The diabetes mortality rate for Black adults was 41.49 per 100,000 people from 2008 to 2012 — 2.29 times higher than the rate for white adults of 18.1 per 100,000. The diabetes mortality rate from 2013 to 2017 decreased to 40.36 per 100,000 for Black adults and increased for white adults to 18.27 per 100,000.

Some of the suggestions to improve the situation would be policy actions that cap the cost of insulin and increase access to health care, fruits and vegetables, and opportunities for physical activity. Physicians should advocate for policies such as these to close diabetes and other health inequity gaps.

Buscemi J, et al. Diabetes Res Clin Pract. 2021;doi:10.1016/j.diabres.2021.108652.