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Addressing Black Men’s Health Inequities

Researchers assess a Black Impact lifestyle change program.

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Doctor in Black men's health program

Data is showing a need to improve Black men’s health outcomes. Among demographic groups in America, Black men have the poorest performance in impacting the American Heart Association’s seven lifestyle factors that reduce heart disease risks. “Life’s Simple 7” are smoking, physical activity, blood pressure, blood glucose, body mass index, cholesterol and diet.

Black populations account for 12% of Americans, but 32% of preventable cardiovascular deaths among Americans. Ohio State University researchers and the African American Male Wellness Agency leaders in Columbus created a “Black Impact” program with physical activity, nutrition and health education components.

Community-based health professionals and trainees offered the 24-week week program to 74 participants ages 27–73 who were divided into six groups. Each group had a personal trainer and a health coach. Participants received training shoes, Garmin® watches, workout bands and healthy food samples. Groups met once weekly and participated in a 30-minute fitness workout, followed by an educational session.

Data analysis showed a significant positive effect on the overall cardiovascular health score related to the seven lifestyle factors, with beneficial changes in weight, BMI, cholesterol, blood glucose and diet. The health score improvement is linked with an 18% and 19% lower risk of stroke and heart attack, respectively, and an 11% and 19% lower risk of all-cause and cardiovascular mortality.

Study authors note that given significant inequities in Black men’s health and cardiovascular fitness, more collaborative community-based approaches like the Black Impact program are urgently needed.

The study is published in the American Journal of Preventive Cardiology (2022; doi:10.1016/j.ajpc.2022.100315).

See also: Black Health and Wellness

Shirley Archer-Eichenberger, JD, MA

Shirley Archer, JD, MA, is an internationally acknowledged integrative health and mindfulness specialist, best-selling author of 16 fitness and wellness books translated into multiple languages and sold worldwide, award-winning health journalist, contributing editor to Fitness Journal, media spokesperson, and IDEA's 2008 Fitness Instructor of the Year. She's a 25-year industry veteran and former health and fitness educator at the Stanford Prevention Research Center, who has served on multiple industry committees and co-authored trade books and manuals for ACE, ACSM and YMCA of the USA. She has appeared on TV worldwide and was a featured trainer on America's Next Top Model.

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