All Articles Tagged "black health"
My great-grandmother had diabetes. So does my grandmother and one of her sisters. My mother pops pills on a daily basis to regulate her high blood pressure and my aunt is plagued by the same routine. A few other family members battle with these diseases as well, and I know plenty folks outside my bloodline who frequent hospitals and doctor’s offices due to raised glucose levels and weight problems. But from what I see, not many of them are doing too much about it besides complaining and shoving meds down their throats.
Every time I turn around, my mom is murdering a piece of fried chicken, fish, or shrimp, drinking soda or ordering and cooking any and everything she knows good and darn well she shouldn’t be eating. She’s always claiming she’s going on a diet or hitting the treadmill, yet I haven’t seen her do a crunch, squat or kick in years (expect if she’s on the dance floor and her song comes on, which is damn near every song, then that’s a different story).
And my stepfather is no different. He’s always complaining about his sore foot because of his “sugar,” but is the first one drinking Kool-Aid, putting bread on his chicken, or pouring sugar on his grits. He stocks up on the sugar-free snacks when he goes food shopping, but that doesn’t stop him from snooping in the kitchen to steal a non-sugar-free treat and excusing it by claiming he can have “some” sweets. But it seems to me that his “some” is a little past a lot.
As unfortunate as it is, this problem stretches far beyond my household. Living in the predominantly black city that is Newark, New Jersey, all I see is this: a pattern of unhealthy eating in my community. Everywhere you turn, there’s a McDonald’s, Dunkin’ Donuts, Burger King, mom and pop chicken shack, Chinese spot or liquor store. Rarely will you find a juice bar or restaurant dedicated to healthy eating. Those things are few and far between, but mostly located in areas where Caucasians and other non-black “visitors” are known to populate; places like Downtown near our handful of colleges (Rutgers Newark, UMDNJ, NJIT and Essex County), by the hospitals, the airport, or our money-making arena, The Prudential Center.
It’s sad to say, but healthy spots in the “hood” tend to be non-existent or end up getting shut down due to poor business. One of my cousins opened up a Subway near one of the city’s most notorious housing projects and is in the process of relocating because no one is eating there. To be honest, I don’t know too many black people who aren’t obsessed with sweets, salt, bread and grease. I myself have always struggled with weight problems and unhealthy eating, although I’ve done better since becoming more educated on the numerous possible health issues for me and aware of the fact that this is a serious problem and a huge epidemic. I work out, try to incorporate healthy food choices into my diet, but I still find myself over-indulging in foods that I know aren’t beneficial to my health.
I’ve come to realize that this thing is more than just taking a liking to foods that taste good. While we love all those fatty, heart attack-inducing treats, it’s way bigger than that. Although America as a whole struggles with obesity and other food-related health issues, African Americans suffer in particular, and statistics show it. We have been made into junk-eating enthusiasts. As a tradition for some, we’ve been raised generation by generation on hog mogs, pig fat and chitlins until we embraced it as the norm.
This is no secret. And while many of us know how we eat is detrimental on many levels, we choose to do nothing about it. I often hear people say, “Well, we have to die from something. Why not die living life the way we want to?” Really? Is that why so many people complain about their sore feet, bad eyes, swollen ankles, hypertension-induced headaches, hospital visits, too-tight jeans, daily pill intakes and needle injections? Because they’re living life the way they want to? Not hardly. A lot of our people don’t realize that their food choices and these problems go hand-in-hand. Although I’m not perfect, I understand that I still have work to do and I am willing and working toward change. For those who are still stuffing their faces with all the wrong things yet complaining and making excuses all along, the question is, are you?
by Charing Ball
Normally I frown upon that kind of dismissal of my passionate soliloquy. But even the historical plight of the natives has to take a backseat to macroni and cheese and collard greens. And that folks is probably the number one reason why we celebrate Thanksgiving: we love food. But not just any food but comfort foods like soul food. How can anyone resist the delicious plates of ribs, candied sweet potatoes or yams, collard greens, fried chicken, baked macaroni and cheese, fried okra, oxtails, rice and beans, potato salad, chitterlings and pigs feet, hush puppies, black eyed peas, warm cornbread and grandma’s famous sweet potato pie? Are you hungry yet?
These soulful meals have become the backbone of the black cuisine. So much so that nutritionists have decided to create a special modified version of the standard food pyramid, called the Soul Food Pyramid, so that it is tailored to the African American diet. For many of us in the black community, soul food speaks to the sordid history we have in this country, but in some instances, acts as a connection we as American Blacks have with the African Diaspora. Foods such as yams, okra and greens can be traced back as early as 4000 BC on the African continent. However, even with all of its historical significance, the Soul food meal has not escaped the scrutiny of health and medical professionals, who blame it for the downfall of the health of the black community.
“Soul Food is a modern day slave diet,” that’s what your cousin Raheem, a recent convert to veganism will tell you. “Keep eating that fried food and grease and see how long you live,” he says, while side-eying your plate at the family dinner. Raheem has a valid reason to be concerned: black folks are outpacing other groups in the rate of obesity, diabetes, heart disease and some cancers. But is it fair to blame Soul Food for the all the health ills of our community?
In order for the “it’s the Soul Food” meme to work, we would have to establish first that this is what we eat every single day of our lives. And we know this is not true as the time and energy needed to make a complete Soul Food meal makes it impractical for everyday consumption, which is why it is looked upon as a traditional celebratory meal or occasional meal reserved for big family functions like holidays, reunions and repasses. For instance, back in the day, the preparation for our soul food inspired holiday dinners would begin at least two days in advance, when my granny, grandmother, mother and I would sit around in the kitchen tearing the collards from the steams, peeling potatoes and snapping peas. Nothing we prepared and eventually ate during our family meals came from a can or a bag, with exception of the collards, which would be hauled into the house in a trash bags, picked fresh from a local farm.
However our daily diets outside of family dinners where completely different. Granny and grandma weren’t around and my mothers, who spent most of her waking hours rushing from one job to the next, didn’t always have the time to prepare meals, let alone meals with a bit of soul in it. In essence, our appetite for sweet potato, potato salad and fried chicken were often soothed with Cheetos, Tastykakes, KFC, Burger King, Pepsi and a bunch of other quick and easy dessert foods, which had become so prevalent in the community.
In fact, study after study has shown a direct correlation between one’s poor health and the distance to the nearest fresh-veggie purveyor. Likewise, the cost of fresh ingredients like fruits and vegetables, which is five times as much as processed franken-foods, has made eating healthy a luxury in many poor communities. Matter of fact, I was in the supermarket the other day and gasped when I saw them selling three lemons for $1.99. I could get a 48 ounce bottle of preservatives-laced lemon juice for half the price. Whether we like to admit it or not, those little discrepancies in prices add up. And as such, the overreliance on fast foods to fill daily dinner plates as well as the lack of access to healthier foods has made the average person more vulnerable to food-related death and disease than grandma’s made-from-scratch ham-hocks and black eyed peas ever could.
A few years back, The Root ran a story about instant soul food and how mass production and distribution has basically diminished the quality of some of the black community’s most beloved comfort foods with things like salt, processed oils, taste enhancers and chemicals to prolong shelf life along with all the advertising costs. Add all these details in with the overall lifestyle shift from intensive physical labor to more sedentary existences and you can certainly see what is truly at the heart of our health crisis.
In the long run, getting back to our family-style Soul Food dinners may do more to ensure a healthier, well rounded diet than all the diet food and tricks in the world. Not only are we forced to sit down, eat and converse together as a family unit but also forced to prepare and cook meals from scratch – without the fillers and added taste enhancers. There is a reason why Aunt Carol’s brought-from-the-supermarket apple pie never gets touched.
Charing Ball is the author of the blog People, Places & Things.
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Our Partner The Grio has published a piece by African-American female doctor Dr. Tyeese Gaines offering advice on how women can stay fit at no cost. Read through her advice and decide if these frugal fitness tips might work for you.
It’s two months away from resolution time. Women everywhere swear to take on monstrous workout regimens, with high out-of-pocket expenses. But, all you need in order to reduce your risk of heart disease is thirty minutes, five times a week — and it doesn’t have to be consecutive. It just has to add up.
So, forget January 1, try these seven simple cost-free ways to get moving today.
Oh Richard… Big Meech, Larry Hoover, I’m a boss but not a star Ricky Rosay… This weekend the “Hustle Hard” rapper showed us just how hard he hustles when after not one, but two seizures aboard flights he still made his way to his Memphis, Tennessee gig. He was pictured Sunday, Oct. 16 in the legendary city of music with DJ Khaled outside of a Wing Stop which was apparently celebrating its grand opening. He hustled hard to make it despite debilitating health conditions.
A video recorded by Ross after the first seizure aimed to assure fans that nothing could stop the “biggest boss in the biz” from handling his business, although we now know that this is not totally true. It’s not completely clear whether the “Push It” artist actually performed at the event scheduled this past weekend. But even by making an appearance it is evident that he continued to push his body to the limit. Merely standing there was too much for a body in crisis.
Rumors about the causes of the seizures continue to develop. Immediately following them, assumptions were made about the boss’s excessive weight and the likelihood that it had finally caught up with him, but then in hood news, rumors circulated that a marijuana binge caused the seizures after Ross allegedly tried to smoke 100 blunts. Lord.
T-Boz of the legendary girl group TLC has revealed that she has secretly suffered from complications related to a brain tumor in addition to battling sickle cell anemia. The mother of one, Chase pictured above, discussed this ailment for the first time while filming “Celebrity Apprentice,” and talks about her revelation in the Oct. 12 issue of People Magazine. EUR Web has more:
Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins revealed that she has been waging a secret battle against a brain tumor that was diagnosed in 2006.
In the Oct. 12 edition of People magazine, the 39-year-old said that she underwent a seven-hour surgical procedure back in 2006, during which doctors peeled the tumor from her brain stem by making a cut behind her ear.
The divorced single mother of one said she was battling the tumor earlier this year during filming of NBC’s “Celebrity Apprentice,” but didn’t want to make it known to the public.
“I didn’t want pity. I was there to help sick children,” she told People.
Because people are often shocked to hear the news, T-Boz has kept it under wraps until now so that she can focus on her acts of service. For instance, in competing on “Celebrity Apprentice,” T-Boz (also known as Tionne Watkins) wanted to focus on raising money for the Sickle Cell Foundation of Georgia. Watkins was not interested in gaining pity for herself.
T-Boz has already brought joy to millions through her music. It is wonderful that she is still focused on helping others live better lives despite her personal health problems. In fact, those problems seem to be her inspiration to do good. We salute T-Boz f or her creative spirit and her continued generosity. Hopefully, she will stay healthy for the benefit of herself and her child.
(Press TV) — A new report from the California Department of Public Health reveals the stark disparity: the mortality rate for black women was 46 deaths for every 100,000 live births from 2006 to 2008, while the rates for Asian, white and Hispanic women in the same period ranged from 9 to 13 deaths per 100,000 births. A 2007 Centers for Disease Control national breakdown showed a similar — but smaller– race gap, with black women at about three times the risk for maternal death as white women.
(USA Today) — Clara Robertson has traveled many miles from her home in Montgomery, Ala., to walk dirt roads, knock on doors of trailers and help black women face cancer. Robertson, 52, finds free transportation for women who can’t get to a screening or an oncologist. She hands out pamphlets. She comforts. She explains that cancer won’t care that they don’t have the time or money for treatment. ”In the South, it’s so different,” Robertson says. “My mom didn’t believe in going to doctors.” As a volunteer for a program organized by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the University of Alabama, Robertson is a diplomat, working to erase nagging health disparities between black Americans and all other Americans. Death rates for black Americans surpass those of Americans overall for heart disease, cancer, diabetes,HIV and homicide, the CDC reports.
(The Grio) — Banning menthol cigarettes could save 600,000 premature deaths by 2050, according to new data released today in the American Journal of Public Health. A third of those deaths are among African-Americans, who predominately smoke cigarettes with menthol flavoring. ”Tobacco is not an equal-opportunity killer, and the link between menthol smoking and African Americans cannot be overemphasized, nor can it be overlooked,” said Dr. David Abrams, senior author of the study and executive director of the Schroeder Institute for Tobacco Research and Policy Studies at the American Legacy Foundation.
(Amsterdam News) — New York City is one of the most fatal cities in the United States for a woman to have a baby. That’s the indication from the most recent data on maternal mortality here, which show Black women are nearly eight times more likely to die during pregnancy or right after childbirth than white mothers. In 2008, Black women in New York City experienced 79 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births, compared to 10 white maternal deaths per 100,000 live births and a national rate of 13 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births, according to the latest data available.
The rate of maternal deaths among Black women in New York City has increased annually since 2004, when the city reached a low of 44 Black maternal deaths per 100,000 live births. That’s all according to vital statistics released by the city in January. “If I were mayor, I’d be saying, ‘This is a priority,’” said Maureen P. Corry, executive director of Childbirth Connection, a New York-based agency working to improve maternal health through research, advocacy and policy. “This needs urgent attention. What is happening to women in our city?”
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg began the year with the upbeat news that the average New Yorker’s life span had increased by five months to 79.4 years, a historic high. At the same time, the city extolled the success of city agencies in reducing smoking and infant mortality, helping to make New York one of the healthiest cities in the United States. While not specifically mentioning mothers, Bloomberg did acknowledge that the need to reduce preventable deaths and health disparities in the city persists.