What are the causes of the root causes of diabetes; obesity? Is it nature or nurture? Nature would be family history and genetics in certain ethnic groups like Latinos and African-Americans high propensity to contract diabetes. Another possible question is what might be the root causes to even the nature of diabetes; could it be more tied to our unhealthy environments, especially those in low-income minority communities?
There are a few related terms to describe this area of health disparities from Public Health Advocacy, Environmental Justice, to Environmental Racism to describe root causes of socio-health inequities seen in low-income communities that are “dumped on” with high concentrations of liquor stores, fast food “restaurants”, donut shops, and not enough supermarkets with fresh produce and products, safe public parks and green spaces, and places of higher learning and cultural centers. These few examples of unhealthy environments along with a profusion of freeways, hazardous toxic dumping grounds, car repair shops, tow yards, junk yards, refineries, factories, and other polluting types of infrastructures and “junk businesses” with little to no strong opposition of elected officials, city planners, and others who presume to defend and protect all constituents.
Unhealthy environments such as this are seen as the causes of diabetes, obesity, cancer, asthma, cardio-vascular disease, depression, and more. The focus of advocacy is to bring attention to many persons in these environments who may be too accustomed to this environment or may not feel empowered to change it. It is a complex problem, but one that needs to be addressed more by bringing together community residents, advocates, elected officials and government representatives, corporate leaders, and other involved members from in and out of the community to address the problems and seek ways to build consensus and creative ways of developing solutions to this problem on a local and even global level.
Social Health Justice
There is a direct link to race to poverty to diseases and the social inequities a lack of funding, resources, and outreach creates. The Latino Diabetes Association exists as an indirect result of the Chicano movement of the 1960’s and 70’s that sought to improve the health, lives, education, status, and jobs of Chicanos and other Latinos in the southwestern United States.
In continuing with that sense of social justice and the health and social inequities so pervasive with Latinos and other people of color, the Latino Diabetes Association attempts to enlighten the community to health disparities such as overcoming the lack of diabetes preventive education, a lack of leadership of our elected officials, city planners, and other public servants who profess have our health and welfare in their best interest and promote access to care and the health system for all.
The LDA provides public health advocacy education seminar during our Lucha program to help our participants realize the socio-health inequities they live in and to recognize that they deserve a lot more and already have the power within them to organize and take action. We encourage participants to organize themselves and attend local city hall meetings, join health collaboratives, write letters to elected officials, and contact the media on various issues.
In low-income neighborhoods, especially Latino and African-American communities across the United States, there are a disproportionate amount of unhealthy neighborhood infrastructures including high rates of fast foods, junk foods, taco and catering trucks, liquor stores, convenience stores, and far more pharmacies than there are supermarkets selling healthy foods, farmers markets, and community gardens. This collectively results in the creation of “food deserts”, urban blight, and “broken window theories” including vacant lots, houses, and buildings, a profusion of car repair lots, tow yards, junk yards, and other “junk businesses” as well as a higher concentrations of freeways and train tracks. Many community members themselves take little care our own communities; at times feeling disenfranchised, powerless, or feel they lack the networking and organizing capabilities to effect this social change.
There is all especially strengthened with the careless or dismissive attitude of some elected officials and corporations that also help create communities affected by “environmental racism” by treating low-income communities as faceless consumers and voters rather than respected constituents deserving of a better way of life.