Racial and ethnic differences in glycemic control of adults with type 2 diabetes.
OBJECTIVE: To evaluate glycemic control in a representative sample of U.S. adults with type 2 diabetes. RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS: The Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey included national samples of non-Hispanic whites, non-Hispanic blacks, and Mexican Americans aged > or = 20 years. Information on medical history and treatment of diabetes was obtained to determine those who had been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes by a physician before the survey (n = 1,480). Fasting plasma glucose and HbA1c were measured, and the frequencies of sociodemographic and clinical variables related to glycemic control were determined. RESULTS: A higher proportion of non-Hispanic blacks were treated with insulin and a higher proportion of Mexican Americans were treated with oral agents compared with non-Hispanic whites, but the majority of adults in each racial or ethnic group (71-83%) used pharmacologic treatment for diabetes. Use of multiple daily insulin injections was more common in whites. Blood glucose self-monitoring was less common in Mexican Americans, but most patients had never self-monitored. HbA1c values in the nondiabetic range were found in 26% of non-Hispanic whites, 17% of non-Hispanic blacks, and 20% of Mexican Americans. Poor glycemic control (HbA1c > 8%) was more common in non-Hispanic black women (50%) and Mexican-American men (45%) compared with the other groups (35-38%), but HbA1c for both sexes and for all racial and ethnic groups was substantially higher than normal levels. Those with HbA1c > 8% included 52% of insulin-treated patients and 42% of those taking oral agents. There was no relationship of glycemic control to socioeconomic status or access to medical care in any racial or ethnic group. CONCLUSIONS: These data indicate that many patients with type 2 diabetes in the U.S. have poor glycemic control, placing them at high risk of diabetic complications. Non-Hispanic black women, Mexican-American men, and patients treated with insulin and oral agents were disproportionately represented among those in poor glycemic control. Clinical, public health, and research efforts should focus on more effective methods to control blood glucose in patients with diabetes.