Magazine article Black Enterprise

Good Health Is Essential to the Good Life

Magazine article Black Enterprise

Good Health Is Essential to the Good Life

Article excerpt

As we stand on the threshold of the new Millennium, more Black people than ever Before are poised to enjoy "the good life".

After earning several college degrees, spending countless hours in professional workshops and networking, putting in 50+ hours in a work week, many Black people have earned the rewards of their hard work in striving for the good life"-more money, more political influence, higher on the social register, respected, admired, powerful. They are envied pictures of success with all the accoutrements-fine clothes, beautiful homes, exotic automobiles, gourmet food, financial investments and the like. And yet, in spite of considerable and increasing wealth and more education, too many of Black "good-lifers" are dying prematurely before they can truly enjoy the fruits of their labor. Although alert and responsive to career and financial opportunities, all too often Black "good-lifers" access the healthcare system and make time for health in an episodic and crisis-oriented fashion. The stresses and demands of managing and maintaining "the good life" have caused too many of us to replace attention to a healthy diet, moderate exercise, and spirituality with too much rich food, too many alcoholic beverages, no exercise, and no time for health screenings. Historically, poverty has been the explanation for poor health. There is no doubt that lack of access to quality healthcare and the lack of adequate health insurance are major obstacles of the under-served representing about 30% of African Americans in this nation. However, the "poverty=poor health" equation does not explain the deplorable health outcomes of almost 70% of African-Americans who have health insurance. A recent survey conducted by Morehouse School of Medicine and New America Wellness Group, revealed that lifestyle, cultural attitudes and traditions play a significant role in health outcomes.

Studies have shown that a diet high in fruits and vegetables and low in fat and reducing stress are associated with lower risk of a number of diseases. Regular health screenings are critical to early detection which can reduce the extent of the treatment needed, extend life and improve the quality of life.

The health crisis in Black America is real and it cuts across all socioeconomic levels. It doesn't matter if you are a Medicaid recipient or a "good-lifer", being Black is a risk factor for a number of life- threatening illnesses.

With respect to a number of health status indicators, statistics for Blacks have significantly lagged behind the total population.

Although life expectancy has improved for all sectors of the population over the course of this century, it is still lower for Blacks than for others: 73.2 years for white males, 73.9 years for black females. In almost every chronic disease category, African-Americans are disproportionately afflicted.

Hypertension affects nearly 6 million African- American men and women. Untreated hypertension kills approximately 60,000 more African-Americans than white Americans do each year. Among blacks, high blood pressure starts earlier, progresses faster and is more severe. When uncontrolled, high blood pressure can cause kidney failure, stroke and heart disease-all of which occur more frequently in African-Americans than in whites.

Commonly referred to as "sugar", diabetes is a serious disease in the African-American community. Nearly 6% of African-American men and almost 8% of African-American women have diabetes-and half don't know it. Among African-American women, diabetes is at epidemic proportions-with one in four Black women-ages 55 and older having the disease. Annually, the African-American community faces 9,000 reported cases of foot and leg amputations, 3,625 cases of reported kidney failure and approximately 6,300 reported cases of blindness.

Black Americans are diagnosed with cancer and die from it more often than any other group. …

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