Friday, March 29, 2013

Diabetes in African American Communities

There has been increased prevalence of Diabetes among African Americans 18 year and older in the United States between 2002 -2010. Diabetes among the America is an important topic of discussion because it is predicted that the rates of the disease will increase as it is evident that more Americans are becoming obese. This disease is even more of an issue within the African American community being that despite being a minority within the US, the rates of diabetes within this group are almost 2 times more likely than non-Hispanic whites (Disease and African Americans).  Diabetes is 7th leading cause of death in Americans and the cause of major issues such as heart disease and stroke. Diabetes also is a contributing factor to other health problems like hypertension, kidney disease, blindness, and even limb amputations. The cost of diabetes related care is also reason to address this public health issue as healthcare spending is an important topic within US politics.
There are various avenues that can be assessed to determine why this health issue is occurring. Indicators, both indirect and direct, contribute to understanding the factors that play a role in diabetes among this group. According to the CDC’s 2003 National Fact Sheet, in 2002, “11.4% of all non-Hispanic blacks aged twenty years or older have diabetes.” In addition to this, the United States’ Diabetes Crisis among African Americans: Today and Future Trends reports that 5,547,700 of 40, 951, 000 (roughly 13.5%) African Americans had diabetes in 2010 and projected a growth to about 20% in 2025. From this data it is apparent that the trend of this disease is definitely increasing.  This data is strong evidence in that it also gives future predictions if actions are not taken against combating this disease.
In today’s American society and culture, life is moving by fast. It’s no doubt that there is only so much time in the day, and with adults having such busy lives they may have to make decisions that can later on impact their health. There are many players that can greatly affect the non-healthy choices that are made that can cause diabetes. Social culture and education all indicate the trend of diabetes in the African American community. The idea of “Soul Food” has long been embedded in the lifestyles of many African Americans. This food, although is just a heavenly taste, is not particularly nutritious because of the way that it may be prepared. A study of African Americans in California showed that fast food restaurants were most preferred among eat out dining options at 29% (Cowling 2). Although the data is a strong inclination of poor diet options, the data was self-reported and may have included bias. Not only does food choice factor into the big picture, but education levels perhaps. In a press release by the CDC, it was noted that, “2007-2010, women 25 years of age and over with less than a bachelor’s degree were more likely to be obese (39 percent-43 percent)” (Press Release). This is just one statistic that shows that those who are less educated are more likely to be obese. Obesity is on the road to diabetes. Other factors that can be evaluated include socioeconomic status, fast food restaurant density within urban communities, unemployment rates, food deserts, obesity, prices of healthy food versus unhealthy food, family history and access to healthcare prior to diagnosis.
"Press Release." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 16 May 2012. Web. 28 Mar. 2013
"2003 National Diabetes Fact Sheet." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. N.p., 20 May 2011. Web. 27 Mar. 2013.
"Diabetes and African Americans." The Office of Minority Health. US Department of Health and Human Services, 28 Aug. 2012. Web. 30 Mar. 2013.

"United States’ Diabetes Crisis among African Americans: Today and Future Trends."Institute for Alternative Futures. Institute for Alternative Futures, 2011. Web. 30 Mar. 2013.

Cowling, Linda L. Health and Dietary Issues Affecting African AmericansCalifornia Food Guide: Fulfilling the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. N.p.: n.p., n.d. 1-2.California Department of Healthcare Services. California Department of Healthcare Services, 20 Sept. 2006. Web. 25 Mar. 2013.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Problem Definition: Childhood Depression

Children and teenagers face many new changes throughout their lives during those times of growth and exploration. In the United States there has been an increase in rates of depression in teenagers between 12-17 years old from 2004-2009.
                Childhood depression is an especially relevant problem. For one, these children eventually grow up to become adults that have to live and be able to function in a fast-paced world. Therefore, it is important to address mental health problems such as this in children early so that they can be treated. In addition, depression can also be the cause of or go hand in hand with other health problems. Children with depression can suffer socially as well as physically and mentally. Socially, children who suffer from depression tend to withdraw from situations and people. They also may become moody or indulge in negative behaviors such as drugs and risky behaviors. It may also be difficult for them to express their feelings or emotions. One of the correlations is that depression is also linked to suicide. Depressed children may begin having thoughts related to death because of their low-self-esteem and may often seem hopeless and alone. Relating this to public health, prevention of mental health diseases can ultimately help prevent these unfortunate and untimely deaths.
                This topic is very interesting because depression in children can sometimes go by under the radar. It is important for parents to observe their children and be able to see symptoms and act on them promptly. I would like to investigate how depression even begins and how it is diagnosed. I would also like to understand why it is occurring at faster rates and due to what factors whether it be because of the media, school pressures, or things like sudden life changes and being immersed in different environments. Because depression in children once was not seen as common place, or the children’s behaviors was just disregarded as being moody, seeing how depression was actually expanded to including children is also really interesting.
                Childhood depression is socially relevant in that it affects a very important and vulnerable part of the population. As a child it may be difficult to cope with everything that it is occurring in your life. When others understand and respond appropriately, they can make the situation better instead of making it worse. In addition to this, the mindset of society, with the media, name brands, and the notion that it’s better to be cool and popular, feeds into behaviors such as bullying. If I remember correctly, in school kids were relentless, but they are not fully aware that their behavior can impact someone else so negatively. Treatment and pressures like this are taxing on adults, much less on the minds of children who are constantly learning and trying to find themselves.
                All in all, it is essential that the cause of this trend is identified so that measures can be taken to sufficiently decrease these cases of depression. Seeing that depression can cause other health problems, preventing this mental illness can then aid in the prevention of others perhaps.

Friday, March 1, 2013


                The movie Contagion is about a pandemic that began at one source and then quickly spread to other people in many countries. The movie covers an array of topics about what could happen if a situation like this was made a reality. Many people were quarantined and dying because the disease was spreading quicker than the CDC and other medical personnel could develop a vaccine to combat it. As the outbreak continues to spread and a drug was developed that could contain the virus, human civilization begins to break down as people were driven to loot and riot. Vaccines are given out via lottery and slowly civilization returns. At the end we realize that the virus came originally came from a bat which transferred it to a pig, then to a chef who then gave it to Beth where it all began. In relation to public health, I feel like this movie captures in its allotted time, the essence of what the goal of public health is. Prevention of diseases and containing them, among other things, is the purpose of the field and if something as drastic as what occurred in the movie happens, I suppose we can expect to see everything and every aspect in full action.
                Many concepts from class relate to and are shown in the movie. Outbreaks are defined as a disease that occurs in great numbers than expected within a community. An outbreak can occur and spread just as rapidly as it happened in the movie. It depends on the disease that you are dealing with. The outbreak investigation involved tracking down where the pandemic started and projecting the amounts of people that may become infected and over what period of time can it be expected to see these occur. Also, developing a solution for the virus and then approximating the amount of time that it can be expected for the vaccination to be verified and then ready for disbursement to the public is also important. Isolation involves separating sick people from others in the case that they may spread the illness to others. This occurs in the movie when many of those who had the illness were placed together. Also, many people in the public isolated themselves from others in order to protect their own health. The concept of quarantine is different in that it separates those people who may have been exposed to a disease, but have not yet showed symptoms of being ill. This also relates to the movie in the sense that everyone who was thought to be infected was purposely set apart from the rest of the population. Quarantine is essential in taking preventative measures against increasing infections and death toll rates.
                Since 9/11 the possibilities for non-conventional ways to spread terrorism has become a realization. The use of biological weapons has become a factor in the way the U.S. prepares for future threats. In the movie, public health agencies could have been better prepared if they had better communication, not only between them, but with how they informed the public. I understand that they did not want to cause panic, but the people also deserve to know what they are up against and how to protect themselves. Also, because the world had never seen anything like the pandemic in the movie, they weren't prepared to effectively prevent the spread of the disease and identify it and its origins. There also should have been better protocols in place for worst case scenarios where a disease spreads uncontrollably.