April has been chosen by the US Office of Minority Health as National Minority Health Month – a time during which nurses, doctors, and the general public can discuss the health issues, diseases, and other problems that disproportionately affect the minority population of the United States.
The goal of National Minority Health Month is to “Accelerate Health Equity Across The Nation”. This is accomplished by raising awareness of the health disparities that affect minority populations in the US, including lifestyle-related diseases like diabetes and obesity, as well as other diseases that disproportionately affect minorities and people of color, such as sickle cell anemia.
In an effort to join in with the US Office of Minority Health and their mission, we’ve put together an overview of 4 of the health issues in the US that disproportionately affect minority populations. Read on, and learn how minorities are affected by poor health outcomes across our nation – and how you can help.
- Sickle Cell Anemia – African-Americans
Sickle cell diseases such as sickle cell anemia disproportionately affect African-Americans. It has been estimated that the preponderance of the disease is around 1 in 5,000, and it mostly affects Americans of Sub-Saharan African descent.
The numbers behind the disease are staggering. While sickle cell can affect Caucasians and Hispanic-Americans, it’s very rare – only about 1 in 36,000 Hispanic children are born with sickle cell. In contrast, about 1 in every 500 African-American children are affected by sickle cell anemia.
Currently, there is no cure for sickle cell anemia, though symptoms like pain, stroke, and infection risk can be controlled by modern therapeutic drugs and techniques, and the average life expectancy for an individual with sickle cell anemia is 40-60 years.
- Obesity – African-Americans And Hispanic-Americans
Obesity is much more common among African-Americans and Hispanic-Americans than it is among non-Hispanic whites. African-Americans have an age-adjusted rate of obesity at over 48.1%, followed by Hispanics at 42.5%, and non-Hispanic whites at 34.5%.
While non-Hispanic whites in America do struggle with obesity, minority populations are hit much harder by the negative effects of this disease, which can lead to stroke, heart disease, high blood pressure, and numerous other dangerous mortality factors.
Income disparity is a huge contributing factor to obesity. Minority groups tend to be less wealthy and have less access to high-quality nutrition. Calorie-dense, less-nutritious foods tend to be inexpensive, and low-income populations are often forced to turn to these foods in order to survive.
In addition, low-income neighborhoods rarely have easy access to high-quality supermarkets and fresh produce – making it even more difficult for African-American populations and Hispanic-Americans to get access to healthy food.