Touro Now: The Hidden Risks of Type 2 Diabetes in Filipino Americans

Touro Now

June 1, 2018

Diabetes is a silent disease, often causing serious complications before it shows any symptoms. But diabetes may pose an even greater risk to Filipino Americans—who represent over 10% of the population in Solano County. Even among those who have a lean appearance, people of Filipino descent tend to have a higher incidence of metabolic disturbances compared to other Asian and non-Asian groups, which in turn leads to a higher amount of type 2 diabetes.

Taking note of this discrepancy while treating patients as a diabetes nurse practitioner at NorthBay Medical Center in Fairfield, Julian Gallegos PhD, RN, FNP-BC, CNL decided to apply his doctoral research to locating the hidden risks of type 2 diabetes in Filipino Americans.

“Diabetes is a huge epidemic that we have to face in the area,” says Gallegos. “Many Filipinos don’t know they are at risk and that there are simple lifestyle changes that they can make to prevent diabetes and pre-diabetes."

There are many resources available for free to the public provided by TUC. To spread awareness and increase screenings locally, the university’s Mobile Diabetes Education Center (MOBEC) regularly drives out into the community to provide free screenings and education throughout Solano County. TUC also offers the Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) and the Diabetes Education and Empowerment Program (DEEP), year-long courses designed by the Center for Disease Control to enable participants to prevent or manage diabetes through sustainable lifestyle changes.

Dr. Gallegos’s study found that Filipinos with diabetes have lower levels of adiponectin, a protective protein in the body that helps regulate glucose levels as well as fatty acid breakdown. He also noted that an inflammatory marker is high in many Filipinos (interleukin 18). Without one of the key tools to naturally regulate inflammation, many Filipinos are left at higher risk for type 2 diabetes, Dr. Gallegos proposes.

“Maintain a close relationship with your primary care provider and adhere to their recommendations,” recommends Dr. Gallegos. “And because of the rise of childhood obesity, children should also be screened by their pediatricians.”

To catch the next MOBEC event in Solano County or join a DPP or DEEP cohort, visit here.

Julian Gallegos is Assistant Professor of the School of Nursing and program coordinator of the Doctor of Nursing Practice/Family Nurse Practice program with an emphasis in diabetes.

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