As I walk down the streets of many inner city/urban neighborhoods across the country, it always amazes me how many fried food and greasy spoon restaurants I see compared to the amount of establishments where you can obtain a healthy meal. I write a lot about financial literacy, but an even larger concern for America... especially in the African-American community... is health. You can have all of the wealth in the world but if you are too sick or not around long enough to enjoy it, what is the purpose? The stats for the African-American community are discouraging to put it lightly:
- Approximately 13 percent of all African-Americans have diabetes and on average, African-Americans are twice as likely to have diabetes as white Americans of similar age.
- African-Americans have a 51 percent higher prevalence of obesity compared with whites.
- African-American men were found to be nearly twice at risk of prostate cancer compared with white men. (Journal of the National Cancer Institute)
- In 2006 the death rates per 100,000 population from high blood pressure were 15.6 for white males, 14.3 for white females, 51.1 for black males and 37.7 for black females .
- 32.4 percent of black males and 29.8 percent of black females have poor cholesterol readings.
There are many people who complain about these stats, but I had the opportunity to meet someone who grew tired of simply complaining and decided to take action. Dr. Bill Releford graduated from the Temple School of Podiatric Medicine and began practicing medicine 1990. As an advocate of a healthier America he established the Diabetic Foot Institute which was dedicated to the reduction of diabetes-related amputations in high-risk populations. I can relate to this work because I have done many workshops in at-risk communities and have seen amputated limbs of those who are obese due to untreated diabetes.
Dr. Releford didn't conclude his phenomenal work with his institute. In December of 2007, he launched The Black Barbershop Outreach Program to address the at-risk male population throughout the entire country for cardiovascular disease. The barbershop is considered to be the Mecca of communication within the African-American community. Understanding this, Dr. Releford went on an aggressive campaign to measure blood pressures and screen for diabetes in black barbershops in over 23 cities across the country. Those who have abnormal findings are referred to his extensive network of physicians and/or health care facilities in the area. To date, because of the vision Dr. Releford, thousands of men across the country have been screened and he has am ambitious goal to screen over 500,000 men by the year 2012.
I had an opportunity to meet with this visionary when he just so happened to be screening men in my neighborhood in Brooklyn. I gathered my things quickly and walked up to the Levels, a local barber shop in Brooklyn, New York. Check out the interview below as we caught Dr. Releford in the middle of his conquest to reduce blood pressure and the levels of diabetes in the African-American community.
More:Health Initiatives Black Barbershop Tour Dr. Releford Ryan Mack The Optimum Institute Of Economic Empowerment
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