Dr. Tatum on Wellness, page 3...
WE know that HIV/AIDS has had a disproportionate impact on communities of color especially here in Atlanta - and has been especially devastating for women, youth and children. Our communities have higher rates of hypertension, tend to develop hypertension at an earlier age and are less likely to undergo treatment to control our high blood pressure. Coronary heart disease mortality is higher for African Americans and is aggravated by problems that we can prevent such as obesity, particularly among African-American women.
It has been said that the health status of African-American women is a primary indication of the health status of Blacks living in America. If that is the case, the news is not good. According to a recent report of the Center for Disease Control, 44% of Black women over 20 have high blood pressure. As I mentioned, Type 2 diabetes has become a public health epidemic, and African American women are among the most vulnerable, more than twice as likely to develop diabetes as white women. Whether it is diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, breast cancer or stroke, Black women are more likely to suffer from these ailments and die from them – early. All of these illnesses are linked to obesity and lack of physical activity.
About four out of five African American women are overweight or obese and among all children, Black girls are most likely to report they got no physical activity in the past week. A National Institutes of Health study found that by the age of 17 more than half of Black girls were reporting no leisure time physical activity at all. Poor diet and lack of exercise are literally killing us and shortening the lives of the next generation. And we can’t forget about HIV-AIDS. While HIV-AIDS infections have declined throughout the United States, the highest rate of new cases is among young black women, in whom it is also the leading cause of death.”[i]
As a community, we are illiterate – illiterate about what it takes to maintain our health and wellness. I believe that if we knew better, we would do better. And as an educator, it is my job to be sure the students we educate know better.
[i] Harris-Perry, Melissa V. (2011-09-20). Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America (Kindle Locations 712-714). Yale University Press. Kindle Edition.