Museum Goers Hear Diabetes Details

Drs. Enrique Caballero and William Hsu talk about diabetes at the Boston Museum of Science.

Friday, March 04, 2011

While diabetes spares no group of people, it hits some populations particularly hard. But everyone with the disease can work to control it and live a long, normal life. These were among the key messages brought to a Boston Museum of Science panel by Joslin’s Enrique Caballero, M.D. and William Hsu, M.D.

The two experts gave a quick update on current diabetes management and discussed the particular issues faced by Latino Americans, Asian Americans, African Americans, and other populations at increased risk of developing the disease. Among their comments during the panel on February 19:

•       Looking at why Asian Americans are at heightened risk for diabetes, Dr. Hsu recently led a clinical study that put Asian Americans and Caucasian Americans on identical diets (first traditional Asian food and then Western food). “When the Asian Americans ate a lot of Western food, their bodies developed more insulin resistance than Caucasian Americans who consumed a typical American diet", he said. "Our study also shows that there is a real benefit to the traditional Asian diet for both Asian and Caucasians."

• In addition to genetic factors, cultural norms may increase the chances of developing diabetes and then its complications, said Dr. Caballero, head of Joslin's Latino Diabetes Initiative. “In some cultures, you don’t go to the doctor unless you are sick,” he noted. “But type 2 diabetes may not provide any symptoms for 10 or 15 years.”

• “At any time, 25% of people in any population who have diabetes may not know that they have it,” pointed out Dr. Hsu, co-director of Joslin's Asian American Diabetes Initiative. “If you have any of the risk factors for diabetes, such as a family history, you should check out the possibility.”

• When Dr. Caballero asked for a show of hands about whether type 1 diabetes or type 2 diabetes is worse, the audience split evenly “That’s a very common misperception,” he responded. “What makes the difference is whether the diabetes is controlled or not. You have to be the master of your diabetes. You can minimize the risk factors for complications and enjoy a very long and healthy life.”

You can hear much more from Dr. Hsu and Dr. Caballero on a Museum podcast. The panel was held in association with the Museum’s Diabetes: A Different Look exhibit, supported in part by Joslin.

Joslin Diabetes Center's Drs. Enrique Caballero and William Hsu at the Boston Museum of Science

Page last updated: March 06, 2013