Being Black and Beating Health Issues

“If you’re black, you’re going to die sooner than your white counterparts and you’re going to suffer from more serious diseases” – John Whyte, M.D., MPH


Disturbing statement, right?

Unfortunately, the quote supports a number of resources (including the NHS) that confirm that in comparisons to other cultures, people of African and African Caribbean origin are more likely to have certain health conditions including hypertension, diabetes and prostate cancer. In addition, sickle cell and mental illness are also known to be two prominent health issues associated within the black community.

To me, the situation begs the questions: are we as a black community doing enough to increase awareness of the common diseases/illnesses associated with us? And are we as Africans and African Caribbean doing enough to reduce our risk to the mentioned health conditions?

In my opinion, the representation from the black communities providing awareness when it comes to mental health and sickle cell is slowly progressing.

In relation to mental health – last year, it was hard not to come across black british bloggers who didn’t touch on mental health as a point of topic, including their experiences and/or wanting to provide advice. SAIE ORG (a Mental Health charity) founded by Saida Odutayo also successfully organised two events to cater to the black community and breaking the stigma around mental health.

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When considering sickle cell awareness, it is warming to know that there are already a few black owned organisations making a difference. However, I am still waiting for events to spam my timelines and have something to write about. One recent non-profit organisation that caught my eye early last year was RedCell campaign founded by Ruby Quartey and directed by Victoria Thomas. RedCell‘s aim is to stop the stigma surrounding sickle cell disease, which is perpetuated by misinformation and miseducation.

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Hopefully 2018 will be the year that organisations like RedCell will cater to our needs buy hosting events.

The NHS have already stated that they think that African and African Caribbean communities are prone to hypertension, diabetics and prostate cancer due to our diet and lifestyle. And these are factors that we ourselves can make a difference in.

As a British African, when it comes to diet -I agree to a certain degree that most of our beautiful dishes cannot be classified as “healthy” (most of us have being taught to cook with palm oil when this can be easily substituted with olive oil and still taste good). Maybe it is the case that we need more British African food bloggers working together with personal trainers to help inform us about the importance of food portions, hours of eating our meals and exercise – for our generation and the older ones too.

We can’t fault black representation when it comes to Healthy Living and personal training and we should be proud of that.

An upcoming healthy and fitness service making a lot of movement within the UK and internationally is OreSUPAsta founded by Ore Adegboyega. Ore used her brand to turn her painful negative situation into what is today a health and wellness brand and a testimony for her.

What makes her brand/business unique is the fact that despite not being a personal trainer she is still making an impact with her health and fitness journey as well as providing programs and Live Fit Bootcamps (with just using Instagram and snapchat) – the power of social media! (YouTube and website to come soon)

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When I asked Ore the purpose of her brand, she mentioned that it is not just about weight loss, but by assisting them on being well and strong to fulfil their purpose and dreams- now that is what I call a health, fitness and motivator, all three in one.

On a whole, the black community are making efforts in increasing awareness and breaking several stigmas on serious diseases that African and African Caribbean are prone to. We still have a long way to go but we will get there.

We also have a good number of black representations when it comes to food bloggers and personal training.

Maybe when it comes to being black and beating health issues we need to make it our business to join in the movements of certain health organisations (black owned and non-black owned), make consumers and patients aware of new organisations. Maybe we also need motivators and not just trainers and educators.

Maybe we need readers like you to write your concerns about being black and beating health issues.

Damilola Coker


The Move

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