Want to Lose Weight, Prevent Heart Disease? Enroll at an HBCU
Despite disparate reports, food deserts in communities of color and concerning health trends in black Americans, blackness is not the automatic indicator of cardiac gloom and doom that some believe it is.
This is backed by a Harvard study, which determined that education not only increases cognition, but it also promotes heart healthiness in blacks.
Amy Non, the study’s author, included more than 3,500 adults and found a correlation between lower education levels and high blood pressure. It reflected that blacks with four years of additional education had notably lower blood pressures. Non’s study will be published in the August issue of the American Journal of Public Health.
This education-decreases-afflictions finding provides a counter-narrative to seemingly unending stories about blacks and premature graves. Certainly many black Americans could live better lives, as can other groups, but the positive possibilities of learning and living offer hopeful options.
Education transforms groups, but marginalization and disproportionate access tend to compound preexisting conditions.
Black people must pursue and obtain education to remain viable in a global society and to benefit from its inherent health benefits.
Black American health is American health, and as the United States tans, browns and blackens, people of color cannot afford to perpetuate the status quo by way of lackluster matriculation rates and academic disengagement. Non’s research should remind higher education institutions across the board to provide beneficial educations, and it should also encourage black Americans to improve their minds and diversify their life experiences through education.
Additionally, with many HBCUs receiving STEM grants to study heart disease, diabetes prevention and other health concerns, improvement can be homegrown.
North Carolina Central University recently renewed its five-year, $5.7 million grant from the National Institutes of Health for its Julius L. Chambers Biomedical/Biotechnology Research Institute.
Grambling State University and Meharry Medical College School of Medicine agreed to partner in hopes of increasing the number of African American physicians, a goal of Meharry’s three-year Center of Excellence Grant.
Morehouse School of Medicine students study psychosocial stress and racism as a determinant of cardiovascular outcomes in ethnic populations.
Through innovative and nuanced approaches we can study the roots of and prevent illnesses from plaguing communities of color.
We can also live up to President Barack Obama and his administration’s 2020 goal of the U.S. leading the world in college graduates.
In the purest sense, that’s what school should be. It should be a place to learn, grow and encourage others to do the same, before re-emerging in society as better people with better solutions to relevant problems. We cannot afford to forget the gains earned by liberating institutions.
As the adage goes, when people know better, they do better. Oftentimes education translates to preventative care, increased career opportunities and lifestyles bolstered by healthful choices and recreation.
The attainment of knowledge can reverse abysmal scholastic trends. Like black American college graduation rates. Only 18 percent of black Americans had a bachelor’s degree or higher in 2010.
If HBCUs, created during times of immense racial unrest and injustice, remain committed to educating students across economic and cultural borders, these future leaders will not only become better citizens, but will also live better, longer lives.
The cost of ignorance is too high. Black Americans develop hypertension at higher rates than other groups in the U.S. and are frequently all-too-familiar with the resultant conditions (diabetes, kidney disease and heart disease).
If we commit to education, promoting better living and are willing to reverse trends, black Americans can become a smarter and healthier group.