Although the CDC recently reported that only a fraction of persons all ages (13.5%) are in fair or poor health, there’s a long line of alarming statics surrounding health in the African American community.
Take for instance that in 2011-2014, 37.6% of men 20 years and over suffered with obesity. While there’s nothing wrong with a little extra cushion for the pushing, compare that to the 56.9% of women 20 years and over suffering from obesity: a disorder involving excessive body fat that increases the risk of health problems – and things begin to get real. Not to mention, non-Hispanic blacks have the highest age-adjusted rates of obesity coming in at 47.8%.
While obesity can be self-treated, by adopting a healthy lifestyle of diet and exercise, if left unaddressed it can lead to obesity-related conditions like heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer — some of the leading causes of preventable death.
Oddly enough, the CDC goes on to report that heart disease, cancer and stroke are all leading causes of death in the Black community.
So what is the number one cause of death in the African American community? Heart disease. In 2013, heart disease accounted for 23.8% of deaths in both the non-Hispanic black populations. On the other hand, cancer accounted for 22.5% of deaths.
So how does one help prevent developing one of these diseases – at any age?
The answer is actually quite simple: maintain a healthy lifestyle.
This of course includes:
- Knowing your blood pressure and keeping it under control.
- Exercising regularly. You can always work your way up to at least 2½ hours of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity (walking) every week or 1 hour and 15 minutes of vigorous intensity aerobic physical activity (running) or a combination of both. Get more information on the American Heart Association’s Guidelines for Physical Activity in Adults and in Kids here.
- Putting the smokes down.
- Getting tested for diabetes and if you discover you have it, following doctors’ orders.
- Keeping a watchful eye on your cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
- Choosing a healthy eating plan, which includes loads of fruits and veggies, foods low in saturated fat, trans fat, and sodium. As well as fiber-rich whole grains, fish (preferably oily fish-at least twice per week), nuts, legumes, seeds, lower fat dairy products and skinless poultry (skinless). Also, Limit sugar-sweetened beverages and red meat. If you choose to eat meat, select the leanest cuts available.
- Maintaining a healthy weight, which of course varies per age, height and sex. For more information click here.
Although it’s true, family medical history may be the strongest influence on your risk of developing heart disease, stroke, diabetes, or cancer, knowing can help reduce your risk of developing health problems, as it allows you to adjust your lifestyle where needed.