A Wellness Letter from Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum
Dear Campus Community,
Many in the African-American community believe 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.
Based on an analysis of the health status of students at Spelman College, many already have hypertension, Type II diabetes, or some other chronic disease usually associated with a population of much older people.
While surprising, this reality is merely a reflection of the status of Black women’s health across the country. According to a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 44% of Black women over 20 have high blood pressure. Type II 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.
In addition, heart disease is the leading cause of death for African Americans in the United States as reported by the CDC. 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, increasing their risk for serious illness.
Why Wellness? Why Now?
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. As a community, we are illiterate – illiterate about what it takes to maintain our health and wellness.
Spelman, which serves a population of women, almost all of whom are of African descent, is known for educating the best and the brightest of their generation. We invest a tremendous amount of time and talent into our students’ development, an investment which will transform their lives and the communities they will impact.
However, given the current state of Black women’s health, we have to question whether these students will live long enough to make that impact. Will they have the healthy quality of life needed to truly deliver on the promise of their potential?
Committed to educating the whole person -- mind, body and spirit – Spelman has an opportunity to change the health trajectory of our students and, through their influence, the communities from which they come. We are taking that opportunity seriously by launching our own Wellness Revolution, an initiative designed to empower and educate Spelman women and the world on the value and components of lifelong wellness.
Spelman's Comprehensive Wellness Program
Click Here to learn more about the College's comprehensive program that will both transform the physical education curriculum, and infuse its infrastructure and co-curricular activities with innovative programs and a state-of-the-art facility to promote wellness as a lifestyle.