Study: Dietary habits among African-Americans are similar, despite Type 2 diabetes diagnosis

COLUMBUS, Ohio Dietary habits among African-Americans are relatively the same, regardless of being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes or having normal blood sugar, according to a new study.

Researchers at Ohio State University examined the dietary intake of 2,589 African-American adults recorded in the 1999-2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Jonathan Scott, a graduate student in medical dietetics at Ohio State University and lead author of the study, and colleagues organized the research participants into three diabetes status groups with the goal of identifying whether having the disease appeared to influence eating habits among the adults. The three groups studied were those with normal blood sugar levels, those with prediabetes and those with a Type 2 diabetes diagnosis. Among the participants, 1,863 had normal blood sugar levels, 321 were in the prediabetes range and 405 had diabetes.

While the study did find African-American adults with diabetes and prediabetes ate more dietary fiber than did participants with normal blood sugar, the intake of nutrients recorded by the national study indicated the average African-American diet tended to be low on fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy, and high on meat and non-whole grains.

“This means people who do have the condition aren’t doing anything different from when they didn’t, and those who don’t have the condition don’t appear to be trying to prevent diabetes,” Scott said of the results. “We still don’t fully understand why some people get diabetes and some don’t, especially if they’re eating the same kind of diet. But what we can see from this study is that there is potential to use nutrition education to both improve the chances of preventing diabetes and other diseases and to help those with diabetes better manage the condition with some lifestyle changes.”

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