Academic journal article ABNF Journal

Testing a Life-Style Risk Model in an Afro-American Population

Academic journal article ABNF Journal

Testing a Life-Style Risk Model in an Afro-American Population

Article excerpt

Abstract: This article discusses the results of a research study investigating the possible relationship between life-style risk factors, e.g., weight, dietary patterns, stress, activity and smoking in the development of diseases. The author concludes that there is a need for individuals to improve weight, dietary patterns, reduce stress and increase recreational activity to reduce life-style risk.

Key Words: Life-Style Risk Model, Afro-American Population, Weight & Dietary Patterns, Stress Reduction, Recreational Activity

Large epidemiological studies, such as the Framingham Study, provide evidence for a link between biological characteristics and lifestyle patterns in the pathogenesis of disease. Findings of world wide research, especially the United States/Japan program, has advanced knowledge of the causes of heart disease, stroke, types of cancer and diabetes indicating that individual lifestyle is associated with these diseases. A major health problem in Japan is high blood pressure, stroke and cancer of the stomach from excessive use of salt, salted pickled foods and low intake of protective fruits and vegetables (Weisburger, 1998). In the western world, heart disease and cancer of the breast, colon, prostate, rectum, pancreas, ovaries and endometrium are related to nutritional tradition of foods too high in total fat, fried or broiled meats, and diets low in fiber, and vegetables and fruits. Cooked meats have toxic chemicals which are causative agents in heart disease and nutritionally linked cancers. With the western world diet, the use of alcohol and tobacco involve a high risk of heart attacks and cancer which accounts for 35% of medical care costs (Weisburger, 1998).

Personal habits also play critical roles in the choice and development of chronic serious diseases and injuries from violence and accidents. Of the ten leading causes of death in the United States, seven could be substantially reduced if persons at risk improved their lifestyles surrounding six habits: diet, smoking, inactivity, alcohol use, stress management and blood pressure control.

Diseases causing deaths today are different from those at the turn of the Century. In the early 1900s, morbidity and mortality were due primarily to infectious diseases, such as smallpox, poliomyelitis, diphtheria and yellow fever (Kumate, 1997). Today, the primary cause of morbidity and mortality are lifestyle diseases, such as heart disease, cancer, stroke, and diabetes, which are chronic diseases and the primary infectious disease is HIV/AIDS. Because modern day treatment of heart disease is associated with treating high blood cholesterol, catastrophic cardiovascular events have been reduced. However, a similar scenario does not exist for the incidence of strokes in which blacks still have a 38% greater risk of occurrence. Likewise, modern lifestyles combined with megacity urbanization have resulted in the emergence and reemergence of infectious diseases, some of which were controlled in the early turn of the 1900s (Kumate, 1997). Identifying and treating signs and symptoms proved effective for infectious diseases but is less effective with chronic diseases (Superko, 1997).

In areas of inquiry, problems with lifestyle can be dealt with by first assuming an underlying theoretical structure, a model. A representation of a lifestyle risk model is presented in Figure 1. A model is a simplified representation of a process intended to enhance the ability to understand, predict and possibly control the phenomenon of interest. The purpose of constructing and testing theoretical models is to investigate concepts (or variables) of the multivariate world that have the strongest impact. Early lifestyle factors associated with adult chronic diseases have been presented in pathways models. These models have been least contributory in understanding the association between biological factors such as genetic predisposition and lifestyle or social risks experiences across the lifespan (Power & Hertzman, 1997). …

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