Diabetes: A Cultural History


ACLS Fellowship Program




This study examines the history of Type 2 diabetes in the United States. It begins in the late nineteenth century, when diabetes was considered a Jewish disease and a disease of wealth, and extends until the 1980s, by which time the link between diabetes and poor people of color had become firmly established. Working with written and visual sources, including medical and public health journals, popular magazines, government documents, and educational films, it examines how links to different ethnic and racial groups have been explained and justified; the actions that have been taken to gain control of this disease; and the constellation of factors that have driven both the steady increase in diabetes and the racial, ethnic, and class disparities that currently mark this disease.