Ethnic intimidation: Reducing diabetes risk factors

February 10, 2012|By Grace Rubenstein, McClatchy Newspapers

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Maria Medina’s life is littered with the destruction of diabetes.

Her neighbor had a foot amputated because of the disease. Her mother went blind from it. Her sister died of it.

Damage that pervasive is a common experience in the Mexican-American community, which has some of the highest rates in a surge of diabetes nationwide. The disease can provoke heart attacks, high blood pressure, kidney failure and blindness, and is the seventh-leading cause of death nationwide.

But when Medina, a 43-year-old mother of three, was diagnosed with diabetes five years ago, she decided not to let the disease exact such a heavy toll from her. The Rancho Cordova, Calif., mom began, bit by bit, turning around one of the big risk factors for Mexican-Americans: her diet.

She got coaching from a nutritionist and took free cooking classes with Kaiser doctors and at her younger daughter’s school, Cordova Villa Elementary. The sessions taught her healthy substitutions – like whole-wheat for white bread, and oil for lard – and cooking methods that use less fat than the traditional preparations she brought with her from Mexico City more than 20 years ago. Read more