Socioeconomic Issues vs. Salt Sensitivity

- Feb• 19•14

Some well-meaning colleagues and friends, especially those of African/Black American descent, have argued that Black America’s dismal state of health is entirely and solely due to poverty, crime, lack of medical facilities, and beliefs and attitudes. Indeed the socioeconomic state of Black America is strongly responsible for the poor health status. No argument there. But salt is directly responsible for the price Black Americans have to pay on the health front.

Regardless of economic status, salt sensitivity is the common pathway that leads to a majority of Black Americans’ health challenges. Educating Black America about this straightforward fact is an easily accomplishable task if we all join forces. 

This effort in no way takes the focus away from the long-standing issues facing Black America. Efforts to change the inequitable status of Black Americans date back at least to the time of Abraham Lincoln. Clearly there is so much more yet to done, especially since the numerous agencies at work on this front are making disappointingly slow progress

But with specific regard to the health of Black America, we have known for a few years at least that the large bulk (nearly three quarters) of the difference in mortality and life expectancy between Caucasians and Black Americans stems from salt-related health problems among salt-sensitive Black Americans.

While our salt habit is the most widely-ignored cause of society’s health problems as a whole, its impact on Black America is many times worse than on any other ethnic group. Even so, there has hardly any effort to educate Black America about this issue.

Mortality difference aside, salt-sensitive high blood pressure extracts a massive price from young Black America. You see that in the high numbers of young Black Americans attached to dialysis machines and  the large proportion of Black America living in heart failure, dementia and with many other disabilities.  A 50-year-old Black American is astonishingly 20 times more likely to suffer heart failure than a Caucasian of the same age. This comes from the prevalence of severe high blood pressure—greater than 180mm hg—among Black Americans.

The state of high blood pressure among Black Americans is a different beast altogether. The medical literature refers to it as clinically aggressive and biochemically different.

Signs of Black America’s salt sensitivity have been all over the place for years. We are just now in a position to make a coordinated effort to educate this at-risk segment of our society.

Please give our presentation of this issue in Salt; Black America’s Silent Killer your due consideration. We finally have a book that’s so easy to understand, it reads almost like a medical version of Dr. Seuss’ Cat in the Hat.  Considering the feedback from readers of our first book Salt Kills, we are excited at the prospect of this second book significantly impacting the health of Black America.

A lot work needs to done to the get the word out about the dangers of eating salt. Yet the solution is so simple. Just put down the salt shaker and avoid highly-salted processed foods. We appeal to all individuals and stakeholders to join forces and help to educate Black America about this low-lying fruit which is in the easy reach of everybody and which could so dramatically improve the health of millions.

Please don’t give up without trying. And don’t accept defeat without a fight.

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