Pittsburgh Initiative Seeks To Reduce Diabetes, Cardiovascular Disease Among Blacks
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Monday examined the Healthy Black Family Project, a University of Pittsburgh Center for Minority Health initiative that provides physical activities for blacks in an effort to reduce hypertension and diabetes rates among the group. Diabetes and hypertension rates among blacks are three times those of whites, according to Anthony Robins, director of the project.
The program, which began in 2005, offers smoking cessation, nutrition and health workshops, as well as classes on body toning, African dance, yoga, meditation and stress-management techniques. Each participant undergoes an examination and health assessment before joining activities. To date, the initiative has 2,000 active participants from 12 Philadelphia communities and has collected 700 family health histories, according to the Post-Gazette. The program's $2.5 million budget includes funding from NIH, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the DSF Charitable Foundation, The Pittsburgh Foundation and individual donors. Organizers also are currently negotiating with several large insurers for additional money, Stephen Thomas, director of the Center for Minority Health, said.
Thomas said most of the participants joined the program after hearing about it from someone else, adding that the university's research on diabetes and cardiovascular disease among blacks led to the idea to develop the project. "It begged the question: If we're such a great medical institution, why do we have so many sick neighbors, some less than a mile away?" he said, adding, "Instead of complaining about people not showing up for appointments, we said, 'Let's take the appointments to them.'" A comparative analysis indicating how the project has fared since its inception is currently under review, he said (Nelson Jones, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 5/5).