Since we're wrapping up Black History Month, I decided to do this post on African American health. There are certain illnesses that are more prevalent in the African American community than in other ethnic groups. Although lifestyle-related diseases like diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular disease are very common in America as a whole, these illnesses are even more prevalent in African Americans. According to the CDC, 37.9% of African American men, and an astounding 57.6% of African American women were considered obese in 2016, compared to 34.7% and just 33.% of White Americans, respectively. In the same year, 39.9% of African American men and 44.5% of African American women suffered from hypertension. Again, the statistics for White Americans are 33.1% and 33.7%, respectively. The trends in the statistics are similar for other lifestyle related illnesses. The question is, why is this the case?
The research suggests that a number of factors are involved in this situation. For one thing, a lack of education on proper nutrition and lifestyle habits is a common problem in the African American community. Although this is lacking in our school systems in general, it seems to be even less commonplace for nutrition to be discussed or presented in predominantly African American schools, especially in impoverished areas.
Another reason for the inequality is that obesity and ill health is directly correlated to poverty – and many African American families live below the poverty line. Along with decreased access to education in health and nutrition, these individuals also have decreased access to healthy foods. As if that’s not enough, a significant amount of marketing of calorie-dense foods with low nutritional content (fast foods and highly processed foods) are marketed directly to the black community. One study showed that African American children see about twice as many calories advertised in food per day as white children.
So, what can we do to change these statistics. I’m afraid the answer is not an easy one. We can start with education – which is the point of this article. Educating our communities about the importance of exercise and nutrition, showing people how to access these resources by affordable means, and making people see that their health needs to be a priority.
Certain, small changes can be made, even on a budget. Below are some examples of healthy substitutions that can be made to unhealthy food choices for an equal, or even lesser price. For more information on nutrition, fitness and health, visit www.nhwchiro.com and click on the resources tab.
Candy Bar $1.29 vs. Banana $0.40
Small bag of chips $0.50-$1.00 vs. Apple $0.40-$.50
“Less Healthy” Fast Food Meal $3.30-$6.20 vs. Salad Fast Food Meal: $4.00-$5.50
Large Soda $1.49 - $3.49 vs. Large Water: $0.00-$0.10
*All prices are averages based on multiple sources including but not limited to McDonalds and Wal-Mart
1. CDC: http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/white-health.htm
2. CDC: http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/black-health.htm
3. Harris JL. Fastfood FACTS: Evaluating fast food nutrition and marketing to youth. Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, 2010.
5: Natural Health and Wellness Chiropractic, LLC. Daytona Beach, FL. www.nhwchiro.com