TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Statistics show that minorities are more likely to die from diabetes and with many people missing annual check-ups during the pandemic, doctors say it’s crucial to get an appointment now.

According to the Office of Minority Health, Black individuals are 60 percent more likely to die than white individuals diagnosed with diabetes. Doctors say during the pandemic many put off their annual check-ups and switched up their lifestyle habits. With statistics like these, that’s a big problem, especially for people who have a family history of diabetes.

“It’s definitely a strong predisposition if you have a first-degree relative or a strong family history of people diagnosed with diabetes,” says Dr. Gwendolyn Clayton with USF Health. “It definitely sets you up for probably diabetes in the future. However, I am a big proponent of lifestyle changes and modifications.”

Here are some of the warning signs of diabetes:

  • Frequent urination
  • Fatigue
  • Blurred vision
  • Increased hunger
  • Increased thirst
  • Increased sweating

Even though genetics can still play a role, here’s a list of some preventive measures:

  • Exercise
  • Maintain a healthy weight and diet
  • No smoking

Not everyone has access to some of the preventive measures. Dr. Clayton says that contributes to the disparities.

“Access to food, access to healthier foods, education in terms of relating to patients. I’m a big proponent of if we see doctors who look like us, we are a lot more likely to relate to them,” Clayton said. “We also might know foods that we are accustomed to in our culture that may or may not contribute to us having diabetes. I know there’s a big historical aspect to how minority patients see medicine as a whole.”

Below is a more in-depth interview with Dr. Clayton on the health disparities surrounding diabetes: