- According to the 2012 United States Census Bureau, African Americans make up an estimated 13.1% of the population, roughly 44.5 million people. From that 13.1%, African Americans lead minorities in deaths for heart disease, cancer and stroke.
- Alarming facts and data, regarding issues and topics in the Black community, have plagued African Americans in the United States and around the world. One issue to consider is the health statistics concerning African American people. “Heart disease is the leading cause of death for people of most ethnicities in the United States, including African Americans, Hispanics, and whites.”
- In a 2008 report, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), reported that African Americans led minorities with 24.5% in heart disease deaths.
- African American men lead in the diagnosis of new cancer cases, as well as the death rate, with African American women following second amongst women in the diagnosis of cancer cases, but number one in cancer death rates. In 2011, the Department of Public Health for the state of Georgia reported that African American young adults, from the ages of 30 to 44, led with 28.9% in the cancer death rates.
- According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the “risk of having a first stroke is nearly twice as high for blacks than for whites, and blacks are more likely to die following a stroke than are whites.”
Heart disease, cancer and stroke may be the leading morbidities in the African American community but diabetes and obesity contribute to many health complications in the Black community as well. “…and don’t forget diabetes, that’s high in the black culture, because of the way we eat, that is one of the things we don’t want to overlook,” says Carlotta Walker, a Registered Nurse. “We have Type 1, when you’re born your body doesn’t produce enough insulin, and we have Type 2, which can be corrected, that’s just about the way we eat, and ties in with obesity.”
- She works at St. Vincent Anderson Regional hospital in Anderson, Indiana where she has been for 32 years. She has served in many different departments of the hospital, including the emergency room, administration, general medical floor, rehabilitation, pre-operative care and currently the recovery department, assisting patients after their procedures.
Walker explains the consequences of hypertension and obesity. “Once you are overweight you get hypertensive, which is a silent killer because most people don’t feel bad when they walk around with high blood pressure, but its destroying our organs, our heart, our kidneys, our eyes, and of course black folks are known to be hypertensive."
Walker discusses what needs to be done in the community and suggest ways for improvement:
- Another way to combat these health issues within the African American community is by exercising and eating properly. “Your eating is going to be 75% of the equation. A lot of people have the misconception that they can eat whatever they want as long as they work out, and that’s not true, because what you put in your body is going to determine 75% of what your body does,” explains Reginald Wells, a certified personal trainer and instructor. “Twenty-five percent of it, and actually not even a full 25%, probably 20% of it is going to be your exercise. It is very important that you do exercise, but your eating has to be the main focus, you have to have a well balanced diet.”
- Reginald Wells has been training for over 14 years. He has been certified as a personal trainer through the Aerobics and Fitness Association of America (AFAA) and also certified as an instructor through the International Sports and Fitness Training Association (ISFTA), teaching trainers how to train and getting them certified. Today, he and his wife, Vicky Wells, are owners of Streamline Fitness in Atlanta, Ga. “We pride ourselves in specializing in functional training. This functional training is applicable to anybody. We have trained everyone from young to senior citizens,” says Wells. “We love training kids, we love training all walks of life, those who have no experience working out, all the way to those who have extensive experience, athletes and people of that nature.”
- Wells discusses the similarities that he sees in African Americans and their health; issues such as hypertension and diabetes. “I think these cases are increasing in our community and because they are increasing, they are coming in trying to battle those cases,” said Wells. “I am seeing the hypertension and the diabetes more so than anything amongst the African American community, but like I said, at the same time the numbers are growing as far as the people who are actually trying to do something about it and that’s what I’m getting excited about,” explains Wells. “Type 2 diabetes is reversible, that can be battled and that can be fought in one. As long as they come in and put in the work and change their eating habits, change their life decisions, I think that battle can be won many many times over.”