From the annual meeting of the Society of Hypertension in Blacks
Rear Admiral Penelope Slade-Sawyer updated attendees on Healthy People 2010, acknowledging straightaway that the health initiative did not meet its two core goals of eliminating health disparities and improving the quality and years of healthy living for Americans.
Strides were made in reducing coronary heart disease death rates and in cholesterol screening, but efforts fell short in terms of blood pressure monitoring, participation in physical activity, and decreasing the percentage of overweight and obese Americans.
Audience members asked whether Healthy People intervenes or simply sets goals, to which Rear Adm. Slade-Sawyer said the 10-year initiative includes education and advocacy in addition to goal setting.
One member of the audience wanted government officials to put more teeth in their efforts, suggesting taxes be levied against those pushing foods containing horrific sodium levels. Consider that Burger King’s original Whopper with cheese has a stunning 1,450 mg of sodium, while Applebee’s quesadilla burger comes in at 559 mg .
As a native Chicagoan, I got a little nervous about such talk, recalling my fearless leaders recent ban on the sale of foie gras based on animal cruelty concerns. The ban was later repealed with the help of Mayor Richard Daley, who claimed the ban made Chicago an international laughing stock.
But in a subsequent session, I was stopped in my tracks by a simple statistic – no doubt widely known by most of the physicians in attendance. Roughly 43% of black Americans over the age of 20 years (not a typo) have hypertension, a particularly powerful risk factor for cardiovascular disease.
Safeguarding the next generation from salt suddenly didn’t look all that ludicrous.