Addressing Health Disparities: A Reflection on Black History Month
As we honor National Black History Month, it's crucial to shed light on an issue that continues to impact the African American community profoundly—health disparities. As a registered dietitian, I believe it's essential to understand the roots of these disparities and work towards creating a future where health equity is a reality for all.
The Reality of Health Disparities
Health disparities refer to differences in health outcomes and access to healthcare among different populations. Unfortunately, the African American community faces higher rates of various health issues, including heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and hypertension.
Social Determinants of Health
Understanding the complex web of factors contributing to health disparities is essential. Social determinants of health, such as socioeconomic status, education, and access to healthcare, play a significant role. The historical context of systemic racism has created barriers that impact health outcomes in the African American community.
Diet plays a crucial role in overall health, and unfortunately, nutrition disparities persist. Limited access to fresh, affordable, and culturally appropriate foods (food deserts) in some communities can contribute to dietary patterns that increase the risk of chronic diseases.
Empowering Through Education
As a registered dietitian, my mission is to empower individuals to take control of their health through education and informed choices. Providing culturally sensitive nutrition education is a key step in addressing health disparities. It's about understanding unique cultural needs and tailoring advice to make healthy eating more accessible and achievable.
Let's commit to working towards a future where everyone, regardless of race or background, can attain optimal health. By addressing health disparities, we contribute to a more just and equitable society—one where health is a right, not a privilege.
Emma Nelson is a registered dietitian and certified personal trainer. Emma is available remotely for all things nutrition related, whether it be general nutrition, pre/post op nutrition, rehab nutrition, or sports nutrition.