April 7 is World Health Day

Today is World Health Day, a day celebrated annually to draw attention to a specific health topic of concern to people all over the world. April 7 marks the anniversary of the founding of the World Health Organization (WHO) in 1948.

This year we want to acknowledge the health disparities African Americans face and the impact it has on their overall health and well-being. African Americans have higher rates of diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease than other groups and black children have a 500% higher death rate from asthma compared with white children. Social and economic factors such as Black neighborhoods lacking stores that stock healthier foods contribute to these health disparities. 

“Our Black and Brown communities are more likely to have an abundance of fast food restaurants and markets stocked with unhealthy processed foods as opposed to our white counterparts, where there tends to be a greater number of grocery stores and markets with an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables,” says Northwestern Medicine Internal Medicine Physician Kimbra A. Bell, MD. “A lack of access to healthy, nutritious foods results in poorer health outcomes.”

Other social and economic factors are more common among African Americans include:

Less access to healthcare and healthcare information, a  distrust of healthcare professionals based on historical discrimination, neighborhood walkability, and lower levels of education and income. 

These social and economic factors, along with other environmental determinants of health, can negatively impact a person’s well-being, and lead to conditions like heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and stroke. 

Swipe through to see what health issues disproportionally affect African Americans, and what we can do to overcome them. 

1Heart Disease 

Heart disease is the number one cause of death for all Americans, but is more common in African Americans than other ethnic groups. In 2018, Black Americans were 30 percent more likely to die from heart disease than white Americans. And heart disease develops at a younger age in Black women and men than in white adults. The most common conditions that increase the risk of heart disease and stroke in Black women and men are hypertension (high blood pressure), obesity, and diabetes.