Posts tagged health disparities
Editor’s Note: This post is part of an ongoing series that will highlight work of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) in Latino communities.
SaludToday Guest Blogger: Risa Lavizzo-Mourey
President and CEO, RWJF
RWJF and the Trust for America’s Health recently released our annual report, F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America’s Future.
Obesity rates in the United States remain unacceptably high, and the epidemic persists in affecting Blacks and Hispanics disproportionately. For the first time, this year’s report examined how the obesity epidemic could impact our future 20 years from now. Ironically, this forecast has made me reflect on the past.
Thirty years ago, I lived in Philadelphia and was an instructor at Temple University. After a long day teaching, I remember heading home with my daughter, who was a preschooler at the time. My office looked down North Broad Street, which ran through some of the worst urban blight of any American city in the past several decades. We wanted to pick up a few items for dinner, but couldn’t find a grocery store or supermarket with the fresh fruit, produce and other healthy foods we were accustomed to eating. About 20,000 people—mostly poor, mostly African-American and Hispanic—lived in that neighborhood and had to cope with this type of disadvantage on a daily basis. What I didn’t know then was that Philadelphia was a microcosm of how policies and environments affect diets, obesity, and health.
At that time, obesity was not on the radar as a major public health concern, and state obesity rates looked tame compared with what we see today. In 1995, Mississippi had an adult obesity rate of 19.4 percent, and Colorado had the lowest rate, 13.9 percent. According to the latest data, Colorado still has the lowest rate, but it has climbed to 20.7 percent. I don’t think we could have imagined it in 1995, but the lowest rate today is higher than the highest rate back then. That’s why it’s so important for us to look ahead to 2030 and try to chart a better course.
The new analysis in this year’s report shows that if obesity rates continue on their current trajectory, it’s estimated that by 2030 adult obesity rates could reach or exceed 44 percent in every state—and could exceed 60 percent in 13 states. If so, new cases of type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease and stroke, hypertension and arthritis could skyrocket. Obesity-related health care costs could increase by more than 10 percent in 43 states and by more than 20 percent in nine states.
On the other hand, the analysis also shows that if the average adult body mass index (BMI) was decreased by only 5 percent in each state, we could spare millions of Americans from serious health problems and save billions of dollars in health care spending—between 6.5 percent and 7.8 percent in costs in almost every state. By 2030, this could equate to savings ranging from $1.1 billion in Wyoming to $81.7 billion in California.
We have made important progress toward preventing and reducing obesity around the country, especially among children. For instance, California, Mississippi and New York City are beginning to show decreases in overall rates of childhood obesity. The trends in those areas also have shown us that children who face the biggest obstacles to healthy choices and are at greatest risk for obesity do not always benefit when progress is made. I saw the evidence of this first hand when I lived in Philadelphia. That’s why a study released this fall tells the best story of all.
New data show Philadelphia has reduced its obesity rates in ways that also helped to close the disparities gap. While the city achieved an overall decline in obesity rates among public school students, the largest improvements came among Black male and Hispanic female students. For Black males, rates declined nearly 8 percent; rates for Hispanic females dropped 7 percent.
Although the decrease in childhood obesity rates in Philadelphia is a recent development, community-wide efforts started there more than a decade ago. We need to learn from the City of Brotherly Love and spread the actions and policies that work so all children can enjoy the benefits of better health.
I am now a grand mother and want my grandkids, and their entire generation, to be healthy. If we take effective action, many Americans could be spared from type 2 diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and other health problems, and the savings in health care costs and increased productivity would have a real and positive impact on the economy. Investing in prevention today means a healthier, more productive and brighter future for our country.
Check out Balsera Communications’ infographic on how culture may help prevent Latino health problems.
Latinos face a high risk of certain health problems—heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes and certain cancers—but the infographic argues that, “by infusing some of the most cherished traits of our culture into solutions for our health disparities, we can help overcome them in a fun and effortless way.”
Improving Latinos’ health is certainly rewarding enough.
But we’re especially honored today that SaludToday, the Latino health website, blog and social media campaign directed by the Institute for Health Promotion Research (IHPR) at The UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, was recognized by the 14th annual Web Health Awards, which laud honors the nation’s best digital health resources.
SaludToday earned a “silver” award for its blog and a “merit” award for its Twitter feed.
The IHPR also earned a “merit” award for its quarterly E-newsletter, IHPR Noticias, which trumpets the latest advancements in Latino health disparities news and research.
For the Web Health Awards competition, which is held twice yearly, a panel of 32 experts in digital health media served as judges and selected gold, silver, bronze, and merit winners from nearly 600 entries.
“We’re humbled by the recognition of our efforts to heighten the awareness of Latino health issues and promote research and methods to prevent and/or eliminate those issues,” said Dr. Amelie G. Ramirez, who directs the IHPR and its SaludToday campaign. “We’re going to keep pushing the envelope to better all facets of Latino health.”
See the complete list of winners here.
Find the latest in Latino health—from fighting Latino liver cancer to innovative ways to improve life for Latino cancer survivors—in the new E-newsletter from the Institute for Health Promotion Research (IHPR) at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.
The IHPR E-newsletter has these stories:
- Story and Video: Study Links Diabetes, Obesity to Liver Cancer in Latinos (Pg 1)
- Story: How a Professional Abuela Spawned a Health Career (Pg 2)
- Story: Clinical Trials & You (Pg 2)
- Story: Join Study Motivating Cancer Survivors to Get Fit (Pg 3)
- Story and Video: Closing Health Gaps for Latino Cancer Survivors (Pg 4)
- Videos: Health Novelas, Stories of Latino Diabetics, & More (Pg 10)
The E-newsletter is jam-packed with even more info on the latest local and national health disparities-related news, resources and events.
Visit us here.
You now have until March 9, 2012, to apply for the 2012 Éxito! Latino Cancer Research Leadership Training program!
Éxito! conducts a five-day summer institute and offers $2,000 internships to encourage minority master’s-level students and master’s trained health professionals to pursue a doctoral degree and a career in Latino cancer health disparities research. The 2012 summer institute is June 7-12, 2012, in San Antonio, Texas.
Éxito! participants also are eligible to receive one of six paid internships (see details in application).
How exactly can the program benefit you?
Ask Mariana Arevalo, a graduate of the 2011 Éxito! program:
“Éxito! was a boost of confidence and a tremendous encouragement for me to apply to doctoral programs. Now more than ever, I’m confident that Latino researchers are not only needed in our field, but we can make a difference in improving the health of Latinos in the U.S.,” Arevalo said. “Éxito! gave me leverage, resources, and lots of moral support to continue in my path to a doctoral program.”
Éxito! is funded by the National Cancer Institute and led by the Institute for Health Promotion Research at The UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, the team behind SaludToday.
Visit the Éxito! website to learn more, read more testimonials and download the application.
Applications must be postmarked by March 9, 2012.
As she wraps up her master’s degree at the University of South Florida, Mariana Arevalo already has worked on projects to improve health care access for the underserved.
But that early experience is driving Arevalo to do more.
So Arevalo and 16 other master’s-level students or health professionals joined the Institute for Health Promotion Research’s first-ever Summer Institute of Èxito! Latino Cancer Research Leadership Training on June 2-6, 2011, in San Antonio.
Èxito! encourages participants to pursue a doctoral degree and careers studying how disease—especially cancer—affects Latinos differently.
“Èxito! gave me the resources that I needed to pursue my goal—motivation and pathways,” Arevalo said. “I came in with doubts about my ability to have both. Now I’m confident that with hard work, passion and persistence I can achieve both things.”
Èxito! (English: Success!), led by the IHPR at The UT Health Science Center at San Antonio and funded by the National Cancer Institute, annually recruits master’s students or master’s-trained health professionals from Texas, Oklahoma, Arizona, New Mexico and other states.
Participants take part in a five-day summer institute to provide motivation, skills and resources needed to apply for doctoral programs.
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Health & Society Scholars program has released its annual call for applications to train new scholars to analyze health disparities problems and solutions.
The program itself is designed to build the nation’s capacity for research, leadership and policy change to address the multiple determinants of population health. Its goal is to improve health by training scholars to:
- Investigate rigorously the connections among biological, genetic, behavioral, environmental, economic and social determinants of health; and
- Develop, evaluate and disseminate knowledge and interventions that integrate and act on these determinants to improve health.
The program is intended to produce leaders who will change the questions asked, the methods employed to analyze problems, and the range of solutions to reduce population health disparities and improve the health of all Americans.
Apply online here. Applications are due Sept. 30, 2011.
Spanish-speakers are encouraged to call the National Cancer Institute’s Cancer Information Service, 1-800-4-CANCER, to get free scientifically based information on cancer clinical trials, prevention, risk factors and more in their language.
In a new video, Aileen Ardizon, Director of Bilingual Services for the Cancer Information Service, explains how the number works and what type of servces are offered.
A new new federal report has uncovered striking health disparities between racial/ethnic U.S. groups, and Hispanics tended to fall into some of the worst categories, Fox New Latino reports.
Other Hispanic-related findings from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report, which examined disparities by sex, race, income and education, included:
- While teenage pregnancy rates fell fell among all ethnic groups, Hispanic girls (77.4 per 1,000) were three times more likely than whites (26.7) and blacks (62.7) to end up pregnant.
- Mexican-Americans have the least success in controlling high blood pressure.
- Hispanics account for one-third of the population that is uninsured – and they tend to live in some of the most polluted and contaminated areas.
- Asthma rates were higher among Puerto Ricans (18.4%) than any other ethnic groups.
The 12th Research Centers in Minority Institutions (RCMI) International Symposium on Health Disparities will convene Dec. 6-9, 2010 in Nashville, Tenn.
The four-day symposium, titled Bridging the Gap between Disparity and Equity: New Minds – New Methods, will offer RCMI institutions and their participants an opportunity to share research information in areas related to cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity, women’s health, mental health, infectious disease, stroke, and behavioral and social health.
Go here for more information.