Minority Health Disparities

Why I break World Records

Minority Health Disparities

Early Data Shows African Americans Have Contracted, Died of Coronavirus at an Alarming Rate

Pandemic’s weight falls on Hispanics and Native Americans, as deaths pass 150,000

Disparities in Cardiovascular Disease Risk in the United States

The lack of African American Medical Doctors

New Jump Swing Mind & Body Fitness Program for the 21st Century

2019 marks my 39th anniversary of being a Guinness Book World Record holder. As I reflect on these decades, I can remember back in 1977, meeting Wilbur Friefeld, the man who actually owned the rights to the Galloping Gourmet. After my first book party, I sat in his office and he stated "Donald, I like your public speaking even better than I like your writing, but the nature of prejudice is such at this time that I don't know how much I will be able to do for you". He did not say those things to me to be mean or discouraging; he said them as a matter of fact. A few years later, while back in New York, I remember talking to the editor of The Whole Life Times about getting a write up in their publication. He stated "Oh yea, you're the vegetarian preacher. We're going to write about you…but don't hold your breath waiting." I took his advice, the following year; I broke my second world record. It is with great pleasure that I see celebrities of color doing commercials for healthy lifestyle and weight loss programs. Not in the name of being a size 2 or some other such nonsense, but in the name of reducing their chances of diabetes, heart disease and other illnesses associated with obesity.

For over 4 decades, my public health message has included the fact that African American women had some of the highest rates of diabetes as well as amputation of limbs as a result of complications of the disease.

In the United States, black women are 2 to 6 times more likely to die from complications of pregnancy than white women, depending on where they live (American Medical Association, 1999). Total maternal mortality rates ranged from 1.9 deaths per 100,000 in New Hampshire to 22.8 in the District of Columbia. When data from 1979 to 1992 were analyzed, the overall pregnancy-related mortality ratio was 25.1 deaths per 100,000 for black women, 10.3 for Hispanic women, and 6.0 for non-Hispanic white women (Hopkins et al., 1999). These rates have not improved between 1987 and 1996 (American Medical Association, 1999). The leading causes of maternal death are hemorrhage, pregnancy-induced hypertension, and embolism (Berg, Atrash, Koonin, & Tucker, 1996). Black and nonwhite women have almost 3 times the risk of death from hemorrhage than white women (Chichakli, Atrash, Mackay, Musani, & Berg, 1999).

The CDC states the following:

African Americans


Cancer - In 2001, the age-adjusted death rate for cancer was 25.4 percent higher for African-Americans (243.1 per 100,000 population) than for white Americans (193.9).

Diabetes - In 2001, the diabetes age-adjusted death rate for African-Americans was more than twice that for white Americans (49.2 vs. 23.0 per 100,000 population).

Adult Immunization - In 2002, influenza vaccination coverage among adults 65 years of age and older was 70.2 percent for whites and 52.0 percent for African-Americans. The gap for pneumococcal vaccination coverage among older adults was even wider at 60.6 percent for whites and 36.1 percent for African-Americans.

Infant Mortality - In 2001, the infant mortality rate among African-Americans was 13.3 per 1,000 live births -- more than twice the rate for white Americans (5.7 per 1,000 live births).

In 2003, African Americans had the highest age-adjusted all-causes rate of all races/ethnicities. In addition, African Americans had the highest age-adjusted death rate for heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and HIV/AIDS.

During 2001-2004, 68% of all women reported with AIDS were African American; among men, just under half (44%) of the new cases of HIV and AIDS were in African Americans.

In 2004, African Americans were more likely to be obese African American women are particularly impacted, with 39.0% of African American women obese in 2004.

Lupus is three times more common in African American women than in white women. African American women tend to develop symptoms at an earlier age than other women, and have more severe organ problems, especially with their kidneys.

Education was inversely associated with heart disease, hypertension, and stroke; as educational level increased, the percentages of adults with these conditions decreased.

Poverty level was inversely associated with heart disease (including coronary heart disease), hypertension, and stroke; adults in families that were poor and near poor were more likely to have never been told they had these conditions than were adults in families that were not poor.

A New England Journal of Medicine 322(1990) ):173-177 "Excess Mortality in Harlem." study reported that a 15-year-old black female in Harlem had a 65% chance of surviving to age 65, about the same as women in India.

Black males in Harlem, on the other hand, had a 37% chance of surviving to age 65, about the same as men in Angola.

Infectious diseases and diseases of the circulatory system were to blame, with a variety of contributing factors including the deep-fried foods traditional to the neighborhood, which may contribute to heart disease.

Church-Based Weight Plan Peels Off Pounds for Blacks

TUESDAY, March 10 (HealthDay News) -- A 12-week church-based weight loss program helped many overweight/obese blacks lose 5 percent or more of their body weight, and most of them maintained their weight loss for at least six months.

The study included 35 men and women, average age 46, with an average body mass index (BMI) of 36. They took part in a pilot program conducted by lay leaders at Gospel Water Branch Baptist Church near Augusta, Ga. The lay leaders had received two days of training to present the 12 modules of Fit Body and Soul, a faith-based diabetes prevention program adapted from the U.S. National Institutes of Health-sponsored Diabetes Prevention Program.

By the end of the program, 16 of the 35 (46 percent) participants had lost 5 percent or more of their starting weight, and about 26 percent had lost 7 percent of more. After the initial 12-week program, participants had six monthly "booster" sessions for six months. Eleven of the 16 participants (almost 69 percent) who lost weight in the initial program kept the weight off during the six months of follow-up sessions.

The findings were to be presented Tuesday at the American Heart Association's Annual Conference on Cardiovascular Disease Epidemiology and Prevention.

"This kind of result is remarkable in a faith-based program run by lay leaders when so many other community-based programs have failed," principal investigator Dr. Sunita Dodani, director of the Center for Outcome Research and Education, and associate professor, department of internal medicine, School of Medicine, Kansas University Medical Center in Kansas City, Kansas, said in an AHA news release.

A multi-year study will compare 10 congregations who use the Fit for Body and Soul program and 10 congregations who use a different health promotion program developed from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Community Guide. All the churches are in the Midwest.

Losing weight through healthy eating and exercise can reduce the risk of diabetes, which is a major risk factor for heart disease.

High Rate of Early Heart Failure Seen in Blacks Biggest risk factors were hypertension, obesity, study found By Ed Edelson HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, March 18 (HealthDay News) -- Blacks tend to develop heart failure 20 years earlier than whites, a long-running study shows.

"What we found is that [early] heart failure occurs almost exclusively among blacks, and it is not a rare occurrence," said Dr. Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, lead author of a report in the March 19 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine. "It affects one in 100 in their 20s and 30s. What this means is that the incidence of heart failure among blacks in their 20s and 30s is that of whites in the 40s and 50s."

The study, which enrolled 5,115 then-healthy young people in four U.S. cities "was initiated by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute to understand how heart disease develops in young people," said Bibbins-Domingo, an assistant professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, and co-director of the Center for Vulnerable Populations at San Francisco General Hospital. The study is just entering its 25th year, she noted.

In the first 20 years, 27 participants developed heart failure, the progressive loss of the ability to pump blood. All but one were black. And while the study did not exclude such factors as genetics and socioeconomic status as potential causes of the difference, it clearly showed a higher incidence of two major risk factors, high blood pressure and obesity, among blacks.

"If you look at blacks and whites at the beginning of the study, they were remarkably similar in risk profiles," Bibbins-Domingo said. The higher incidence of the two major risk factors soon emerged.

"Those risk factors for heart failure were already present in young adults, and they made themselves felt 20 years later," she said.

Some association was found between lower education levels and the risk of future heart failure, Bibbins-Domingo said. But the overriding link was with high blood pressure and obesity.

"From other work, we know that young people are least likely to be aware that they have high blood pressure," she said. "If they do have high blood pressure, they are least likely to be in treatment, and if they are in treatment, they are least likely to have it under control."

Young people don't often go to doctors, and "physicians don't often treat high blood pressure in young people, because they think the consequences are far in the future," Bibbins-Domingo said.

The study "suggests that individual patients and their physicians should be aware of the future dangers of high blood pressure and obesity in young people," she said. "They should try for changes in lifestyle, and should put them on medications when lifestyle interventions don't work."

Those interventions are especially important in young blacks, she said, but the message is often ignored. "The high rate of teenage obesity in the black community suggests that we already are behind the curve," Bibbins-Domingo said.

Dr. Paul Underwood, former president of the Association of Black Cardiologists, was struck by "the interplay between high blood pressure and heart failure" shown by the study.

"Fully 40 percent of those in the study were not on hypertensive therapy at the time they were diagnosed," Underwood said.

The study points up the need to identify and control risk factors including obesity and diabetes, Underwood said. "If we don't get control of the situation, it's going to get much worse," he noted.

It's difficult to tell whether racism underlies the differences seen in the study, said Dr. Eric D. Peterson, a professor of medicine from Duke Clinical Research Institute in Durham, N.C., who wrote a commentary accompanying the report.

"That is hard to prove," Peterson said. "It is a diagnosis of exclusion. Patients don't notice a care differential, but when you look at the results, the care is different."

But doctors are human, and "dealing with people who are more similar to you can influence care," Peterson said. "The doctor-patient relationship can differ to the extent that you feel a commonality with that patient, and the patient feels a commonality with you."

American Indians/Alaska Natives

Chronic diseases - Heart disease and cancer are the leading causes of death among American Indians and Alaska Natives. The prevalence of diabetes is more than twice that for all adults in the United States, and the mortality rate from chronic liver disease is more than twice as high, according to 2002 data.

Infant mortality - The infant mortality rate among American Indians and Alaska Native are 1.7 times higher than non-Hispanic whites. The sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) rate among this minority is the highest of any population group, more than double that of whites in 1999.

Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) - In 2001, the syphilis rate among AI/AN was 6 times higher than the syphilis rate among the non-Hispanic white population, the Chlamydia rate was 5.5 times higher, the gonorrhea rate was 4 times higher and the AIDS rate was 1.5 times higher.

Injuries - Unintentional injuries are the third leading cause of AI/AN death and the leading cause for age 1-44 years. AI/AN death rates for unintentional injuries and motor vehicle crashes are 1.7 to 2.0 times higher than the rates for all racial/ethnic populations, while suicide rates for AI/AN youth are 3 times greater than rates for whites of similar age.

A 2010 report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics compared national estimates for selected health status indicators, health behaviors, healthcare utilization, health conditions, immunizations and human immunodeficiency virus testing status for American Indian or Alaska Native adults with those for white, black, Asian, and Hispanic adults age 18 and older.

Compared with other groups, non-Hispanic American Indian or Alaska Native adults are more likely to have poorer health, unmet medical needs due to cost, diabetes, trouble hearing and activity limitations, and to have experienced feelings of psychological distress in the past 30 days. Non-Hispanic American Indian or Alaska Native adults are more likely to be current smokers and current drinkers compared with other adults.

Asian Americans

Access to Healthcare - According to the 2000 U.S. Census, Asian Americans represent 4.2 percent of the U.S. Population or 11.9 million individuals. Overall, about 21 percent of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders lack health insurance, compared to about 16 percent of the general Population

Cancer - During 1988-1992, the highest age-adjusted incidence rate of cervical cancer occurred among Vietnamese American women (43 per 100,000), almost five times higher than the rate among non-Hispanic white women (7.5 per 100,000). During 1988-1992, the highest incidence rate of liver and intrahepatic bile duct cancer was seen in Vietnamese American men (41.8 per 100,000), more than 10 times higher than the rate among non-Hispanic white men (3.3 per 100,000).

Tuberculosis (TB) - Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders had the highest tuberculosis (TB) case rates (33 per 100,000) of any racial and ethnic Population in 2001 (14 per 100,000 for non-Hispanic blacks, 12 per 100,000 for Hispanics/Latinos, 11 per 100,000 for American Indians/Alaska Natives, and 2 per 100,000 for non-Hispanic whites).

Hepatitis B Virus (HBV) - While the rate of acute hepatitis B (HBV) among Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders has been decreasing, the reported rate in 2001 was more than twice as high among Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (2.95 per 100,000) as among white Americans (1.31 per 100,000).

Hispanic/Latino Americans

HIV/AIDS - According to the 2000 U.S. Census, Hispanics/Latinos of all ethnic groups represent 13.3 percent of the U.S. Population or 38.8 million individuals. In 1999 the age-adjusted death rate for HIV was 32.7 per 100,000 for Puerto Ricans living on the mainland U.S., higher than any other racial or ethnic group, more than six times the national average (5.4 per 100,000) and more than 13 times the rate for non-Hispanic whites (2.4 per 100,000).

Diabetes - Among Hispanics/Latinos, the diabetes death rate in 2000 was highest among Puerto Ricans (172 per 100,000), followed by the rates for Mexican Americans (122 per 100,000), and Cuban Americans (47 per 100,000).

Adult Immunization - In 2002, influenza vaccination coverage among adults 65 years of age and older was 70.2 percent for whites and 46.7 percent for Hispanics/Latinos. The gap for pneumococcal vaccination coverage among older adults was even wider, with 60.6 percent for whites and 23.8 percent for Hispanics/Latinos.

Asthma - During 1993-1995 in the northeast U.S., Hispanics/Latinos had an asthma death rate of 34 per million, more than twice the rate for white Americans (15.1 per million).

Work-Related Injuries - Mexican foreign born workers accounted for more than two thirds (69 percent) of the 2,440 fatally injured, foreign born workers between 1995 and 2000. Lower percentages of fatally injured workers came from Cuba (146 or 6 percent), El Salvador (131 or 5 percent), Guatemala (90 or 4 percent), and Dominican Republic (87 or 4 percent).

Native Hawaiians and Other Pacific Islanders

Access to Healthcare - According to the 2000 U.S. Census, Native Hawaiian & Other Pacific Islanders represent 0.3 percent of the U.S. Population or 874,000 individuals. Overall, about 21 percent of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders lack health insurance, compared to about 16 percent of the general Population

Tuberculosis (TB) - Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders had the highest tuberculosis (TB) case rates (33 per 100,000) of any racial and ethnic Population in 2001 (14 per 100,000 for non-Hispanic blacks, 12 per 100,000 for Hispanics/Latinos, 11 per 100,000 for American Indians/Alaska Natives, and 2 per 100,000 for non-Hispanic whites).

Diabetes - During 1996-2000, Native Hawaiians were 2.5 times more likely to be diagnosed with diabetes than non-Hispanic white residents of Hawaii of similar age.

Infant mortality - In 2000, infant mortality among Native Hawaiians was 9.1 per 1,000, almost 60 percent higher than among whites (5.7 per 1,000).

Hepatitis B Virus (HBV) - While the rate of acute hepatitis B (HBV) among Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders has been decreasing, the reported rate in 2001 was more than twice as high among Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (3.0 per 100,000) as among white Americans (1.3 per 100,000).

Asthma - Native Hawaiians in Hawaii had an asthma rate of 139.5 per 1,000 in 2000, almost twice the rate for all other races in Hawaii (71.5 per 1,000).

Smoking - In 2000, 30.9 percent of Native Hawaiians in Hawaii reported smoking cigarettes, compared with 19.7 percent of Hawaii residents overall.

HIV Infection Among People 50 and Older Concerns WHO March 2009

A "surprisingly high" number of people over age 50 worldwide are infected with HIV and the number of cases in older adults may be growing, says a World Health Organization study released Tuesday.

For example, between 2003 and 2006, the rate of HIV infection among Americans 50 and older increased from 20 percent to 25 percent. Between 1996 and 2006, the rate of HIV infection among people 50 or older in Brazil increased from 7.5 to 15.7 per 100,000, Agence France Presse reported.

"The frequency of infection with HIV in older people is worrying. We need to understand why and when these people are becoming infected so that public health campaigns can be better targeted to prevent such infections," said WHO scientist George Schmid.

One problem is that HIV is widely regarded as a young people's disease, the WHO said. This leads to less HIV screening among older people, which results in delayed diagnosis. In addition, older people are less likely than younger people to practice safe sex, AFP reported.

"My people perish for lack of knowledge."

For over 30 years, I have been aware that neither the mainstream health organizations nor the minority organizations, have done enough to educate these populations regarding health, nutrition and disease.

The fact that African Americans and other minorities have some of the highest rates of nutrition and life style related illnesses, is the primary motivation to my breaking world records along with the desire to demonstrate a Sports Nutrition program that can improve athletic performance and recovery without illegal synthetic drugs.

Looking back over these three decades, I can honestly say, that if I had to do any of those 7 record attempts all over again, I wouldn't drop a minute of an hour of any day. The ideas of Preventative Health and Nutrition are more respected today by the mainstream medical profession than they ever were 30 years ago.

My sincere desire was and continues to be to assist people in reducing their pain and suffering.

As much as there are people who are focusing on Political issues regarding quality of life for people of color in the United States, I will always be an Advocate of the Health and Education factor.

A sick soldier cannot win a war.

Currently, African Americans and native Hawaiians have some of the highet rates of preventable diseases in America

Life Expectancy Reaches New Record

Life Expectancy Pushes Past 78 Years; Death Rate Falls for 11 of 15 Top Causes of Death By Miranda Hitti

WebMD Health NewsReviewed by Louise Chang, MDJune 11, 2008

U.S. life expectancy has hit a new record: 78.1 years for babies born in 2006, says the CDC.

What's more, the death rate for 11 of the top 15 causes of death -- including heart disease, cancer, and stroke -- slowed in 2006.

That's what the CDC's preliminary data show, based on some 2.4 million deaths in 2006. Here are the highlights from the CDC's report.

Life expectancy in 2006 is about four months longer than it was in 2005, according to the CDC.

White women continue to have the longest life expectancy, followed by African-American women, white men, and African-American men. Those patterns have held since 1976, though all groups have seen their life expectancy improve during that time.

Here are the 2006 life expectancy figures for each of those groups:
White women: 81 years
African-American women: 76.9 years
White men: 76 years
African-American men: 70 years

Top Causes of Death Here are the top causes of death for 2006 in the U.S., and the change in their age-adjusted death rate since 2005:

Heart disease: down 5.5%
Cancer: down 1.6%
Stroke: down 6.4%
Chronic lower respiratory diseases (lung diseases): down 6.5%
Accidents: down 1.5%
Alzheimer's disease: down 0.9%
Diabetes: down 5.3%
Influenza and pneumonia: down 12.8% due to a relatively mild flu season
Kidney disease: unchanged
Septicemia (an infection that affects the blood and other parts of the body): down 2.7%
Suicide: down 2.8%
Chronic liver disease and cirrhosis: down 3.3%
High blood pressure: down 5%
Parkinson's disease: down 1.6%
Homicide: down 1.6%

The decreases in the death rate for Alzheimer's, Parkinson's disease, and homicide may have been due to chance, and the kidney disease death rate held steady, so that leaves the CDC confident that 11 of the 15 leading causes of death had lower death rates in 2006 than in 2005.

The list's order is largely unchanged, except that Alzheimer's disease and diabetes traded places.

The preliminary infant death rate dropped 2.3% from 2005 to 2006, the CDC reports.

Best, Worst State Death Rates Among states, Hawaii had the lowest age-adjusted death rate and Mississippi had the highest death rate in 2006, according to the CDC.

But if you fold U.S. territories into that ranking, Guam edged out Hawaii, and American Samoa ranked lower than Mississippi.

The PDN Program focuses on Preventative Health and Nutrtion,Literacy (the foundation of all education),mental health and physical fitness.

According to the 2002 national report card on reading by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), most of our children (64%) are less than proficient in reading even after 12 years of our attempts to teach them:


African American

4th grade 60%

12th grade 46%


4th grade 56%

12th grade 39%

American Indian/Alaska Native

4th grade 49%

12th grade n/a

Asian/Pacific Islander

4th grade 30%

12th grade 27%


4th grade 25%

12th grade 21%


African American

4th grade 88%

12th grade 84%


4th grade 85%

12th grade 78%

American Indian/Alaska Native

4th grade 78%

12th grade 80%

Asian/Pacific Islander

4th grade 63%

12th grade 65%


4th grade 60%

12th grade 58%

"There is a profound reading crisis in the United States. 39%, almost 40%, of fourth graders do not read even at the basic level and a majority of students do not read at the proficient level."

- James Wendorf, Executive Director, National Center for Learning Disabilities (9-11-03 Children of the Code interview)

Reading problems contribute significantly to the perpetuation of socio-economic, racial and ethnic inequities.

"You know if you look at where we are today, the bottom line is for a country like America to be leaving behind about 38-40% of its youngsters in terms of not learning to read is unconscionable. What makes it equally or doubly unconscionable is if you disaggregate those data: 70% approximately of young African Americans kids can’t read. 70%! If you look at Hispanic kids, 65-70%! The fact of the matter is when we do our studies and we identify kids at risk for reading failure, we know that the majority of those kids who are at risk and who will hit the wall as they learn to read are kids from poverty."

- Dr. G. Reid Lyon, Branch Chief, National Institute for Child Health and Human Development (9-11-03 Children of the Code interview)


The average scores for White, Black, Hispanic, and Asian/Pacific Islander students increased between 1992 and 2005. Looking at the short-term trend, Black and Hispanic students each scored higher on average in 2005 than in 2003. The White-Black and White-Hispanic score gaps narrowed during this same time.

September 2007

The U.S. Department of Education is failing to protect children of color with disabilities from racially disparate discipline. When the IDEA was reauthorized in 2004 Congress added a requirement that states and districts collect, analyze and report data regarding racial disparities in disciplinary treatment.

This misguided federal action, freezing the remedy, undermines the will of Congress and the public at large. Instead of ensuring that states are intervening in districts where these racial disparities are deemed significant, the federal government has recommended inaction to every state. Specifically, the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Special Education Programs (OSEP) has rescinded guidance on the subject and issued a statement recommending that every state stops what they are doing or risk violating the U.S. Constitution.

Action is needed now to thwart OSEP's erosion of the IDEA's protections against racial disparities in discipline. Our research, in collaboration with leading scholars, documented national patterns of large disparities in discipline, suggesting unequal treatment, particularly for Black males, that fully justify the congressional mandate. These patterns persist, unabated. Specifically, in 2005, Blacks comprised approximately 15% of the school aged population ages 6 through 21, but 32,315 Black students with disabilities, nearly half (48%) of the 67,966 reported suspensions, were suspended long-term (more than 10 days). These racial disparities in discipline among students with disabilities suggests a larger failure to provide a free and appropriate public education, a failure that concerns all students with disabilities, but has a disproportionate impact on children of color. If OSEP's latest recommendations are followed, the analysis of racial disparities in discipline will be dropped from IDEA compliance monitoring.

The data suggest that FAPE is denied to large numbers of children of color. Ideally, special education law ensures legal protection against being excluded from school, as it requires a host of behavioral supports and services and procedural protections. OSEP has not successfully ensured that even the basic fundamental IDEA requirements such as due process protections, manifestation determinations, behavioral improvement plans, or continued education are afforded to minority youth with disabilities who are suspended or expelled for more than ten days.

The data suggest that all students with disabilities are not treated equally. For example:

"Black students with disabilities, are more than three times as likely to be suspended (short-term) from school as White students with disabilities," and 2.6 times as likely to be suspended for more than ten days.

The reauthorized IDEA now requires states to collect and report disaggregated race and ethnicity data on students who were suspended "out of school" for one day or more, but this information is not readily available.

Other research suggests that being suspended from school increases the risk of dropping out as well as future incarceration. One study shows that being suspended once increases the risk of dropping out by a factor of three and it is well established that dropping out dramatically increases the risk for involvement in the juvenile justice system. The data also show that both students with disabilities and minority youth are found in disproportionate numbers in the juvenile justice.

Source of data analyzed: www.ideadata.org The analysis and graph were created by Daniel Losen of The Civil Rights Project of UCLA (formerly located at Harvard University).

As a Disability Rights Advocate, I am concerned with the education of ALL Not just those who are in the Headlines