Aug 18, 2022 - World

One small change could help better diagnose diabetes

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Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Latino, Black and Asian adults are more likely to have diabetes at lower body mass indexes than non-Hispanic white adults, suggesting doctors should lower the threshold for testing.

The big picture: The estimated rate of undiagnosed diabetes among Latino adults is 4.4%, compared to 2.7% for white non-Hispanics, CDC data shows.

  • For Black and Asian adults it's 4.7% and 5.4%, respectively.

State of play: Senate Republicans earlier this month blocked a provision in the Inflation Reduction Act that would have capped insulin prices for people with private insurance.

What to know: The national recommendations for when to test for type 2 diabetes — starting regularly for someone 35 years old who is overweight or obese — reflect mostly studies with white participants, researchers in a recent study say.

  • Instead of using a body mass index of 25 kg/m2 as the marker for getting tested, the study’s authors recommend screening Black and Hispanic Americans starting at 18.5 kg/m2, and Asian Americans at 20 kg/m2.

What they’re saying: “Fixing the health disparities for Americans with diabetes will require a range of strategic investments in health care and efforts to reduce structural inequities,” study author Rahul Aggarwal, a cardiology fellow at Harvard, said in a news release.

  • “Making screening more equitable is a place to start.”

Yes, but: Insulin, key to treating diabetes, has doubled in cost in the past few years, making it especially unattainable for people of color who have much higher rates of uninsurance.

  • About 14% of people who need insulin injections to control their blood sugar levels spend “catastrophic” amounts of their income on them, according to a study published last month.
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