When Breaking Up Is Hard to Do: The Link Between Sugary Drinks and African-American Health Disparities

Written by

Maya Rockeymoore
Maya Rockeymoore Dr. Maya Rockeymoore is president and CEO of Global Policy Solutions, a social change strategy firm in Washington, D.C., and the Center for Global Policy Solutions, a social change nonprofit dedicated to making policy work for people and their environments. She is also the co-chair of the Commission to Modernize Social Security. A regular guest on radio and television shows, Dr. Rockeymoore has appeared on NPR, CNN, Black Entertainment Television, ABC World News Tonight, Fox News, Al Jazeera and C-SPAN.

I will never forget the time when I visited my parent’s church on “Diabetes Sunday,” a program of the American Diabetes Association to raise awareness about the disease within the African-American community. A brochure in the church bulletin highlighted the dangers and prevalence of type 2 diabetes in the African-American community and how obesity is a causal factor. After the service, we made our way to the fellowship hall to celebrate Black History Month. As we began to chow down on unhealthy foods and sugary drinks, nobody blinked at the hypocrisy.

We’re all familiar with the statistics. African-Americans have higher rates of type 2 diabetes, heart disease,stroke, hypertension and end stage renal disease. Medical science has demonstrated that each and every one of these chronic diseases that undermine our health and length of life are highly correlated with the obesity epidemic. Yet, it seems that our community has been in a state of suspended disbelief with regard to the evidence.

I have been among the 80 percent of African-American women who are either overweight or obese. When I look back at the time when I tipped the scale at 200 lbs, it was my overconsumption of — indeed addiction to — refined carbohydrates, including sugary foods and drinks that was the culprit. I didn’t slow down when I learned about the effects of these unhealthy drinks and foods on the human body, including increased insulin resistance, which leads to type 2 diabetes. Nor when my father — who is 6 foot 2 inches tall and weighs more than 300 pounds — was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Not even when doctors started tracking the decline of his kidney function.

Read the full article in The Huffington Post

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