National Minority Health Month, which is April, is a great time for a wake-up call about obesity, diabetes, hypertension and heart disease. These 4 conditions are linked to each other, and each often results in serious and often avoidable health problems. That’s why we call them “Our Big 4 Targets for Minority Health” (also called “The Big 4” by us. They strike hard and often at minority, or multicultural, populations.
Why “The Big 4” are So Important:
- 13 percent of all African Americans (more than 1 out of every 10) have diabetes, and one third of them (1 out of every 3) don’t even know they have it;
- Almost 1 out of every 4 African Americans (38%) has hypertension (high blood pressure);
- About 50 percent (or one half) of African American, Hispanic and Native American women are obese, and their children are developing obesity at alarming rates;
- More than 8 out of every 10 adults with diabetes are obese or overweight; and
- The leading cause of death in African Americans and Hispanics is heart disease.
Here’s why we are targeting these 4 conditions to improve minority health:
- Each of the Big 4 often contribute to the development of one or more of the other three conditions,
- Each of these conditions often makes it difficult to control the other three, and
- Control of either condition makes it easier to control the other one(s), if present.
What You Can Do about”The Big 4”
Because racial and ethnic health disparities (health disparities) have not decreased substantially overall since Minority Health Month was first observed in 1915, special attention needs to be given to three things related to “The Big 4”:
- Prevention, which is always better than a cure;
- Early Diagnosis and Treatment;
- Disease Control, which includes limiting complications and disabilities.
Too often, “The Big 4” are not diagnosed and treated, thus paving the way for later serious illnesses, and/or early deaths – which affect entire families in addition to those who have the condition. While family history increases a person’s risk of developing any of “The Big 4”, the odds shift away from that possible serious complication if you:
- Control Your Weight – by balancing your calorie intake with regular physical activity, which includes walking. In other words, you must routinely burn off as many calories as you take in. Our Food & Fitness Channel has (a) cultural specialty, celebrity, nutritionist and chef recipes, (b) Tip Sheets on such things as ‘Cooking Good and Eating Healthy’, ‘Shopping Smart’, and ‘The Smart Diet’, and (c) other tools to help you eat healthy, and stay fit.
– Limit your fat, salt, sugar and alcohol intake and by all means
– Don’t smoke.
Also, remember that staying healthy doesn’t have to mean high-priced medical care. It means knowing how to reduce your risk of serious illness by arming yourself with knowledge, and taking practical steps like those recommended throughout our website and blog. As you can see, the advice helps you live a healthier, longer and more enjoyable life.
And, if you still need a wake-up call, think of two things:
- National Minority Health Month, and
- The Health Power motto: Knowledge + Action = Power! ®