The People is our section for all opinions and perspectives concerning Black Chicago.  Submit your opinion to

Chicago is one of the most segregated cities in the United States, and the divides go further than just city geography; they are also evident in the health disparities between Black and non-Hispanic white Chicagoan residents.

In Chicago, the diabetes-related death rate among Black residents is 70% higher than among other communities. Black Americans are also 60% more likely to be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes than non-Hispanic white Americans. If you are overweight or obese or have a family history of type 2 diabetes – you may be one of the 96 million Americans living with prediabetes, as more than 80% don’t know they have it. Type 2 diabetes can be a debilitating and devastating disease, but it is preventable if you know to look out for prediabetes.

Prediabetes means your blood glucose (sugar) level is higher than normal but not yet high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes. It not only raises your risk of type 2 diabetes, but also heart disease and stroke. 

As family physicians, we are committed to combating racial health disparities in Chicago through an emphasis on prevention and improving the whole health of individuals and families. And that’s why we want to remind healthcare providers to screen for prediabetes and type 2 diabetes in people who meet the risk factors. Preventing and treating prediabetes is a critical step in decreasing the disparities of diabetes and its complications, such as loss of limb, in Chicago’s Black communities.

The good news is, there are steps people can take to prevent type 2 diabetes and avoid needles and pills – or worse. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) – now covered by Medicare and Medicaid in Illinois – promotes a lifestyle change program made up of 26 one-hour sessions led by a trained lifestyle coach to help people learn skills related to weight loss, physical activity, stress management, and more. 

Locally, the Chicago CARES to Prevent Diabetes Program can help connect people with prediabetes to a free DPP class, offered by a variety of providers across the city. Acting now may help reduce the onset of type 2 diabetes later. 

Together, we can combat the racial disparities of diabetes and make the meaningful changes needed to overcome it.