In a surprising finding, black and white people have the same risk of developing diabetes when all biological factors for the disease are considered over time, reports a large new Northwestern Medicine study published in JAMA.
The finding flips long-held beliefs that there is an unexplained or genetic reason why black adults have double the rate of diabetes compared to white adults by midlife, which is considered early onset.
Previous studies have found higher rates of diabetes in black people are still present even when risk factors for diabetes such as obesity and lower socioeconomic status are taken into account.
But this study, for the first time, identified a combination of modifiable risk factors over time — body mass index, fat around the abdomen, fasting glucose levels, lipids, blood pressure and lung function — that drive the higher rate of diabetes. When all of these were factored out, there were no disparities between black and white men or women.