Blacks also have a 320% higher rate of hypertension-related end-stage renal disease than the general population (Diet-Related Chronic Diseases, 2001).
According to a study of diet-related chronic diseases among black men in Florida, it was found that almost two-thirds of blacks in Florida are estimated to be at risk for health problems related to being overweight. The percent of the total population that is at risk for health problems related to being overweight compared to the State of Florida in shown in Table 2 below.
Table 2. Percentage of Black/White Population at Risk for Overweight Health Problems - Florida vs. The U.S. (Source: Diet-Related Chronic Diseases, 2001).
The authors of this study point out that many blacks do not eat a sufficient amount of vegetables and other foods that require the recommended levels of nutrition. Clearly, there is more involved in the epidemiology and causation of obesity among blacks in America today than many might think, but there are some potential solutions to the problem which are discussed further below.
Potential Solutions to the Problem.
Many of the diseases that are especially threatening to the health status of African-American women such as obesity can be mitigated through education and long-term changes in lifestyle behavior (Collins, 1996). Low-income, African-American, pre-adolescent girls, though, may be unmotivated to actively participate in prevention programs that emphasize the adoption of exercise and low-fat eating patterns if it is for the purpose of maintaining a slender body (Fitzgibbon & Flynn, 1996). Notwithstanding the need to respect the cultural ideals that exist among any given population, it is equally important to help educate those citizens who are at high-risk of developing life-threatening conditions because of their accepted lifestyle behaviors that may contribute to such conditions. Education has been shown time and again to be the best alternative to communicating these important messages to those who at most at risk, and it does not have to be expensive. A proposed budget plan for educating such high-risk citizens is provided below.
Proposed Budget Plan for Educating at-Risk Citizens.
Because resources are by definition scarce, it is important for any community nursing initiative to take advantage of whatever facilities are available in low-income communities to deliver an educational program to help reduce the high incidence of obesity through improved eating habits, lifestyle changes and a recognition that inappropriate body image ideals may lead to serious health problems later in life. Therefore, community centers, churches, businesses and other free-to-use facilities in the community will be used as a first alternative for such initiatives. Assuming that the costs associated with staffing such an initiative are provided by the state, the other costs associated with such efforts are delineated in Table 3 below for a 30-minute program of instruction for approximately 20 participants; these costs can easily be modified based on actual experience and the need to fine-tune the programs according to the ages of the intended audience:
Table 3. Budget Plan for Obesity Educational Programs.
Government Publications on Obesity
This category includes informational fliers, brochures, coloring pages or books, or other materials developed by the staff member for the presentation, and includes all copying costs.
The research showed that obesity represents an enormous threat to the nation's health in general, and African-American women in particular. Obesity affects over 60% of all American adults, and the incidence is higher among black men than white men, and highest of all among black women. Although the condition of obesity remains better described in the literature than it is understood, research to date has suggested a number of causes for the disparities between obese blacks and whites, including a potential genetic component, body image ideals, eating habits and other lifestyle behaviors that contribute to a high incidence of overweight among this segment of the population. The research also showed, though, that education, particularly for those at the greatest risk such as pre-adolescent black girls, can help mitigate the powerful effects of these contributing factors.