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By 1996, 28 percent of this population was reported to have a poor-quality diet, compared to 16 percent of whites.A poor quality diet often can be attributed to greater access to packaged, processed, and fast foods; the common practice of using fats in cooking; and the high cost of fresh produce and lean meat.
The structure in African American families is often nuclear and extended with non-related “family” members.Institutionalization of elders has historically been avoided, with sons and daughters taking on the family caretaker role.Many African Americans like hearty meals that may include meat, fish, greens, rice, grits, white and sweet potatoes, corn, turnips, eggplant, peanuts, and homemade desserts.An apt analogy to keep in mind is that learning about a specific model of car is helped by referencing the operator’s manual, but reading and even memorizing that manual doesn’t replace learning how to drive a car.The following cultural patterns may represent many African Americans, but do not represent all people in a community.Before the advent of health ministries, African American churches had mission volunteers who attended services and administered to parishioners.
African Americans are becoming increasingly health conscious, seeking health screenings and treatments, although health literacy in this population tends to vary by generation.
Body and Soul: A Celebration of Health Eating and Living for African Americans offers information targeted to African Americans on eating a health diet rich in fruits and vegetables.
African Americans often have strong religious affiliations.
However, through health education and increased awareness of healthy eating practices, African Americans are replacing traditional pork products with turkey, fried foods with baked foods, and starchy vegetables with tomatoes and green vegetables.
National programs to improve diet quality and the overall health of African Americans and other minority groups have been initiated.
African Americans are affected disproportionately by the leading causes of death in the US, with more morbidity and mortality from premature births, cancer, HIV/AIDS, obesity, and diseases related to obesity, including heart disease, hypertension, stroke, and type 2 diabetes.