Communities of color face distinct challenges in nutrition and health. Here’s an overview of the latest nutrition data and statistics for communities of color.
The United States is a diverse country with many different racial and ethnic communities, each with its unique challenges and health disparities.
“Communities of color” is a term that generally includes people who identify as African American, Hispanic or Latino, Native American, Asian American, and Pacific Islander, among other groups.
Nutrition in communities of color is an important and complex issue that’s shaped by many factors, including food security. By exploring these issues, we can gain a better understanding of the factors that contribute to disparities in nutrition and health outcomes and identify areas for targeted intervention and policy change.
Factors that influence nutritional statistics
Nutrition data and statistics for communities of color can vary depending on several factors, such as obesity rates, diet quality, food insecurity, access to healthy food, and chronic diseases.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
- Non-Hispanic Black adults have the highest obesity rate (38.4%) compared to other racial and ethnic groups in the United States
- Hispanic adults (32.6%) and non-Hispanic White adults (28.6%) have lower rates but still above healthy levels
According to the US Department of Agriculture, non-Hispanic Black and Hispanic adults were more likely to have poor dietary quality compared to non-Hispanic White adults. Poor dietary quality was defined by low consumption of fruits and vegetables, high intake of saturated fat, and added sugars.
Food insecurity is the lack of consistent access to enough food for an active, healthy life. People who are food insecure may struggle to find enough money to buy food or may not have access to grocery stores that sell healthy foods.
According to a report by Feeding America, households with higher rates of food insecurity are those headed by Black and Hispanic individuals, those with incomes below the federal poverty line, and those with children. Food insecurity can negatively impact nutrition and overall health.
Access to healthy food
According to a 2021 report by the US Department of Agriculture, Black and Hispanic households are more likely to live in areas with limited access to healthy food options, also known as “food deserts.” This can make it challenging for these communities to access fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats, and other healthy options.
A diet that’s high in processed foods, saturated fat, and added sugars can increase the risk of chronic diseases. Communities of color are more likely to experience these diseases due to a range of social, economic, and environmental factors that make it difficult to access healthy foods.
According to the Center for American Progress, Black and Hispanic Americans are more likely to be diagnosed with chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and hypertension. Nutrition plays a critical role in managing these conditions and improving health outcomes.
Overall, these data and statistics indicate that there’s a significant need to improve access to healthy food options and education on proper nutrition for communities of color. By addressing these disparities, we can work towards creating a more equitable and healthier food environment for all.
Ways to improve nutrition in communities of color
There are a number of steps that can be taken to improve nutrition in communities of color. Here are a few examples:
Increase access to healthy foods
The lack of access to affordable, healthy food can be addressed by increasing the number of grocery stores, farmers’ markets, and other food retailers in these communities. Another thing that can be done is to increase funding for programs that provide fresh fruits and vegetables to low-income families.
Boost food security
Addressing food insecurity can involve increasing funding for food assistance programs. Supporting community gardens and other local food initiatives can also help significantly. Some food assistance programs in the US include:
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) – Provides timely, targeted, and temporary benefits to low-income Americans to buy groceries.
- The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) – Provides USDA commodities to families in need of short-term hunger relief through emergency food providers like food banks.
- The Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP) – Provides food assistance for low-income seniors with a monthly package of healthy USDA commodities.
- The Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) – Provides nutritious meals and snacks to children and adults in designated child and adult care centers.
- The National School Lunch Program (NSLP) – Provides nutritionally balanced lunch to qualified children each school day.
- The School Breakfast Program (SBP) – Provides nutritionally balanced breakfast to qualified children each school day.
- The Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) – Provides free meals and snacks to low-income children during the summer months.
- Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) – Provides nutritious foods and nutrition education for low-income, at-risk women, and infants.
Provide nutrition education
Many people in communities of color may not have access to information about healthy eating and nutrition. Providing nutrition education in schools, community centers, and other public spaces can help to increase awareness and understanding of the importance of healthy eating.
Address systemic racism
Systemic racism can have a major impact on access to healthy food, as well as other factors that affect health. Addressing issues such as discrimination in housing, employment, and education can help to improve health outcomes in communities of color.
Partner with community organizations
Community organizations can play an important role in promoting healthy eating and nutrition. Partnering with these organizations can help to increase awareness and support for healthy eating, as well as provide access to resources and support for individuals and families who want to make healthy changes to their diets.
It’s time to address the systemic barriers to healthy eating and access to quality nutrition in communities of color. If you’re passionate about promoting health equity and want to learn more about the challenges facing these communities, we need your help to make a real difference.
Take action by supporting local organizations that work to improve food access in under-resourced areas, advocating for policy changes that prioritize healthy food options, and sharing this article with your friends and family to spread awareness and spark important conversations.
Together, we can work towards a more just and equitable food system that ensures everyone has access to nutritious and culturally relevant food. Join us in this important effort and help build a healthier, more equitable future for all.