Prevent & Control “Our Big 4 Targets”: Diabetes, Obesity, Hypertension & Heart Disease

Big 4 Master with diabetes at top-4-22-15By Norma J. Goodwin, MD, President and Darci L. Graves, Editor

There’s no better time than now for a wake-up call about the possible dangers of  “Our Big 4 Special Targets” – Diabetes, Obesity, Hypertension and Heart Disease. We  call them “the Big 4” because they strike hard and often at minorities, or multicultural populations. That’s why it’s important to prevent or control them to live longer and live well.

Consider This:

  • Diabetes is “much more than just a little touch of sugar”. Overall, 13% of 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.
  • Obesity  has become an epidemic among African Americans, Hispanics and Native Americans, especially among their women. In fact, about one-half (50%) of these women are obese, and obesity in their children is growing at alarming rates.
  • Connection between Obesity and Diabetes: About 8 out of every 10 adults with diabetes are overweight or obese. Therefore, avoiding obesity markedly decreases a person’s chances of developing diabetes.
  • Hypertension: (high blood pressure) is called “the silent killer” because it often quietly leads to stroke, kidney failure, and heart disease.  Of great concern, hypertension occurs in more African Americans than in any other group in the United States, as almost 1 out of every 4 African-Americans (38%) has hypertension, compared to about 1 out of every 3 (29%) white Americans.
  •  Heart Disease is the leading cause of death in African Americans and Hispanics.

A Special Point: Each of “the Big Four” either contributes to the development of another of “the Big Four”, or makes one or more of the other three conditions more difficult to control. So focus on the prevention, early detection and/or control of each of the serious negative effects of “The Big Four”, and take positive action against them.

Positive things you can do related to “the Big Four”: 

 Your 1st and best choice is to prevent them. That’s because prevention is always better than a cure. To prevent “the Big Four”, you must do two things:

  1. Know the key risk factors (or lifestyles and health practices) for each of “The Big 4” , and
  2.  Act on the risk factors that you can change. By the way, some risk factors, like eating healthy and staying physically active/fitness, decrease the risk of developing all four of “The Big Four”.

We mention risk factors that can be changed because some risk factors, like family genetic or hereditary history can’t be changed. However, we must give special attention to changing the risk factors we can, especially when there is a family health history of one or more of “The Big 4”.

Your 2nd best choice is to delay the development of “the Big Four”, in case you’re going to eventually develop one or more of them. The best way to delay development is to do the same thing as for prevention, namely changing those risk factors that you can.

Your 3rd choice occurs if you already have one or more of “the Big Four”. In that case, it’s very important to control the condition(s) and not let the condition(s) control you.  Too often, these conditions – diabetes, obesity, hypertension and heart disease – go undiagnosed and untreated, thus paving the way for later severe illnesses, disabilities and early deaths, which affect entire families in addition to the involved individuals.

Although a family history increases your risk of getting each of “the Big Four”, the odds shift to your favor if you:

  •  Control your weight, which means limiting your calorie intake and doing regular physical activity (at least 30 minutes a day 5 days a week) in order to burn off as many calories as you take in, and remember that walking is a good exercise.
  • Limit your salt, fat, sugar and alcohol intake and by all means, don’t smoke.

Click on the special website sections for either of “The Big 4” for much more information. . In addition, the Food Branch of our Food and Fitness Channel contains many delicious low calorie recipes, and Tip Sheets for shopping smart, cooking good and eating healthy.  In addition, our Fitness Branch contains Tip Sheets to burn off calories and stay fit, such as calories burned by different activities, moving for the health of it, and walking for health and fitness.

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