Participants at Obesity Symposium Call on Health Professionals To Help Blacks Make Traditional Foods Healthier
Health professionals should try to help blacks improve their diets rather than focus on entirely eliminating some "[h]igh-fat, salt-laden traditional foods," Eric Bailey, an associate professor of anthropology and family medicine at East Carolina University, said this week at a symposium on black childhood obesity for black journalists, the Florida Times-Union reports. According to Bailey, who wrote the book "Food Choice and Obesity in Black America: Creating a New Cultural Diet," said many health care providers do not understand that traditional foods are linked to black survival and creativity. He suggested that providers should try to help blacks make traditional foods healthier, such as using herbs in collard greens instead of salt. He said, "Many times, the patients are unsure of how to implement it (new foods such as cottage cheese and the like) within their household or within their culture. I realized, from dealing with my relatives, that there wasn't a match between (black) people's dietary habits and their belief systems." He added, "We're losing people ... each year in our own families, and most if it is from chronic diseases related to food preferences." Dana Fields-Johnson, director of the anti-obesity group Healthy Jacksonville, said, "One of the things that Healthy Jacksonville is focused on is cultural norms in the black community, and respecting those norms when it comes to diet. We're not telling people to disrespect what they've learned from their grandmothers and mothers but how to adapt it so that it's healthier" (Weathersbee, Florida Times-Union, 4/18).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.