The Student News Site of Dillard University


The Student News Site of Dillard University


The Student News Site of Dillard University


    Health risks and race: High association

    Diabetes, heart disease, cancer, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart attack, stroke, arthritis, substance abuse and obesity; the list goes on.

    These diseases, along with many others, have been known to attack and jeopardize the lives of many African Americans.

    Danielle Sams, a junior psychology major, has suffered from arthritis for the past five years, which will result in an eventual deterioration of her bones.

    "I guess if I lose weight I would have a slighter chance of being at risk," Sams said. "But arthritis is arthritis whether you are big or small."

    Many students said they are aware of the conditions associated with the lifestyle of mst African Americans.

    "Being that we consume a great deal of greasy, fatty, unhealthy foods, our health risks are greater than any other culture," said Shaneka Malloyd, a junior sociology/criminal justice major.

    According to Malloyd, she has poor eating habits because of the food she eats in Kearny. She said if she did not have a meal plan, she would be more likely to cook healthy food at home.

    Although Malloyd said she does not have any present health issues, she has a history of high blood pressure in her family, which creates a risk factor for her in the future.

    Some health issues like hypertension, hypercholesterolemia and diabetes are rooted in a person’s genes, but environmental issues can also be a factor, which may cause these conditions to elevate to a more severe degree, according to Dr. Rade N. Pejic, instructor at Tulane University School of Medicine.

    "Any high calorie, high fat, high salt diet will exacerbate [high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes] conditions," Pejic said.

    In general, according to Pejic, a diet low in fresh fruits, vegetables and fiber, and any highly processed, deep-fried, greasy foods are hazardous to an individual’s health.

    Despite the fact that many students are aware of the dangers associated with the types of foods they consume and the awareness of a family history of health problems, some said they continue to eat poorly by choice.

    Patrice Davis, a junior public health major, has a family history of high blood pressure like many other students. Consequently, Davis said she has an even greater risk because of her weight problem.

    While the cafeteria food slightly contributes to Davis’ health risks, she said she is in control of her food consumption.

    "If the cafeteria had a better selection of more healthy foods, I probably still wouldn’t eat it," Davis said. "But I would switch it up, like fried chicken one day and turkey burgers instead of hamburgers the next."

    Pejic agrees that being adults, students are responsible for their own health, but there should be considerations on behalf of the university.

    "I think the university should offer students healthy alternatives so they at least have a choice," Pejic said. "Students should have access to grilled and baked meats rather than fried meats."

    In an effort to promote a healthier lifestyle, Sodexho has launched a new program called Balance Mind, Body and Soul. The health initiatives provided by Sodexho are a holistic approach to wellness, according to Bonnie Gordon, public relations spokesperson for Sodexho.

    According to Gordon, the average age for college students has gone up and they have become more educated consumers. Therefore, the effort to implement health programs is necessary.

    "Food service providers have taken a responsibility that is more than food," Gordon said. "We are addressing lifestyle as well."

    Gordon recommended that students read The College Students Guide to Eating Well on Campus, by Ann Litt, which contains many helpful hints in regards to healthy living.

    With many efforts being made to promote a beneficial lifestyle and decrease the risk factors that cause African Americans to become victims of many health issues, many students have taken heed to the advise of health officials.

    Dr. Pejic advises students to have a well-balanced, low fat, high fiber, 1800-2000 calorie/day diet with plenty fruits and vegetables, and daily aerobic exercise for at least 30 minutes.

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    Health risks and race: High association