11/14/2011 05:35 pm ET Updated Nov 14, 2011

Growing Number Of Hispanics Affected By Diabetes

A new report shows that diabetes, a disease which has hit the Latino community especially hard, has turned into a staggering global epidemic affecting 366 million people, or more than 8 percent of the world's adult population.

According to the International Diabetes Federation, the number of adults with diabetes is projected to increase to 552 million people by 2030, or 9.9 percent of the world's adults, which "equates to approximately three more people with diabetes every 10 seconds." World Diabetes Day is held every year on Nov. 14.

"The estimates confirm that diabetes continues to disproportionately affect the socially disadvantaged, and is increasing especially rapidly in low- and middle-income countries," the report said.

Diabetes has taken a heavy toll on the Hispanics in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

According to the World Health Organization, there are currently 346 million people worldwide who have diabetes and one in 10 adults is expected to have it by 2030, making it the seventh leading cause of death.

The CDC conducted a study to examine the prevalence of diabetes among Hispanics in six U.S. geographical areas--California, Florida, Illinois, New York/New Jersey, Texas, and Puerto Rico-- from 1998 to 2002.

Some important findings in the CDC investigation were the fact that Hispanics have double the risk of developing diabetes compared with non-Hispanic whites, Hispanics tend to diabetes at a younger age and that the prevalence of diabetes decreased with higher education levels. Among Hispanics with less than a high school education, 11.8 percent had diabetes, compared to 7 percent of college graduates, according to CDC.

That last statistics indicate that diabetes is not only linked to genetics but also to socioeconomic conditions.

According to the WHO, 80 percent of people with diabetes live in low- and middle-income countries.

PBS found evidence supporting this. Service Worker Centers counties, which are defined as "midsize and small towns with economies fueled by hotels, stores and restaurants and lower-than-average median household income by county", tend to have an average of 10 percent of the adult population with diabetes. "Their $35,000 median household income is well below the national average", PBS reported.

"Now add on top of that, ignorance, lack of access to proper health care, that's important too and that delays the diagnosis as well," Dr. Steven Edelman, professor at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and director of the Taking Control of Your Diabetes organization told NBC SanDiego.

The good news is that early testing can reduce the risk of further complications. "If you don't treat it, your blood sugar gets too high, and blood sugar circulating in your body for years and years that's too high can lead to complications: Eye, kidney and nerve disease," Edelman told the station.

According to the WHO, keeping a healthy body weight, exercising at least 30 minutes a day, eating balanced meals and avoiding the use of tabacco can prevent the onset of Type 2 Diabetes.

Hilda Rivera, a nurse educator at PinnacleHealth Organization, established a program to help control the outbreak of Type 2 Diabetes in Hispanic communities, according to

The program started with personal visits to homes and meetings in community centers, and eventually conducted educational classes about the disease and screenings for blood sugar levels.

"It's all about changing behavior, which is especially difficult with language and cultural barriers," Rivera told "People need to understand through staying active and eating healthy, you in turn control your diabetes so you don't have to lose your leg or go blind. Often I'll hear, 'my dad or grandma had diabetes, so I knew I was going to get it.' Only through this type of outreach and education are we able to explain that this doesn't have to be their path."