Rotberg presented the findings on Tuesday at the American Diabetes Association meeting in Boston. Findings presented at meetings are generally viewed as preliminary until they’ve been published in a peer-reviewed journal.
Worrying about having enough food — dubbed “food insecurity” — is an issue for about 14 percent of households in the United States. But there are significant differences in food insecurity by race. Almost 24 percent of Hispanic households face food insecurity, while 26 percent of black households don’t always have enough to eat, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). In white households, that figure is 10 percent.
There are also significant differences in the rate of type 2 diabetes by race. Approximately 8 percent of whites have it, compared to around 13 percent of Hispanics and blacks, according to the American Diabetes Association (ADA).
Previous research has found a 2.5 times higher risk of diabetes in food-insecure households, the researchers said.
The current study included people with type 2 diabetes participating in the Emory Latino Diabetes Education Program. This program is designed to provide education and support to help improve blood sugar management. Two-thirds of the study participants don’t have health insurance. And 76 percent have household incomes below $15,000 a year, according to the study.
The researchers asked whether or not people had been worried about having enough food to eat in the last 30 days. Those who had were identified as food insecure.
There were 137 food insecure people, and 167 people who were food secure, the researchers said. Blood sugar levels were significantly better in people with food security. The A1C level in people who were food secure averaged 7.6 percent. In those who were food insecure, the A1C average was almost 10 percent.
A1C is a blood test that estimates blood sugar levels over the past three months or so. In general, the goal for people with diabetes is to have an A1C of lower than 7 percent, according to the ADA.