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The Rise of Diet Related Disparities Among Women

Updated: May 1



Diet-related health disparities among women have become increasingly prominent, with certain ethnic and racial groups experiencing disproportionate challenges in accessing nutritious food and maintaining healthy dietary habits. Understanding and addressing these disparities are crucial for promoting equitable health outcomes and improving overall well-being among women.  


Some of the top diet-related disparities affecting women include: 


1. Obesity and Overweight: 

Black/African American and Hispanic/Latina women are disproportionately affected by obesity and overweight compared to other racial/ethnic groups. 


2. Type 2 Diabetes: 

Native American/Indigenous, Hispanic/Latina, and Black/African American women have higher rates of type 2 diabetes compared to other groups.  


3. Cardiovascular Disease (CVD): 

Black/African American women often face higher rates of cardiovascular disease risk factors such as hypertension and high cholesterol, which can be influenced by diet and lifestyle factors.  


4. Poor Nutrient Intake: 

Studies indicate that Hispanic/Latina and Black/African American women may have lower intakes of essential nutrients like calcium, fiber, and certain vitamins, contributing to disparities in overall health outcomes. 

 

5. Food Insecurity: 

Hispanic/Latina, Black/African American, and Native American/Indigenous women are disproportionately affected by food insecurity, which can lead to inadequate dietary intake and poorer health outcomes. 


6. Access to Healthy Foods: 

Women from low-income and minority communities often face barriers to accessing affordable and nutritious foods, leading to disparities in diet quality and health outcomes. 


Here are suggestions for diet and lifestyle changes that can help improve these diet-related disparities: 



1. Consume Nutrient-Dense Foods that are accessible: 

Make sure to include plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, plant proteins, and healthy fats in your diet. These foods provide essential nutrients and can improve your overall health and well-being. Visiting your local farmers market, food pantry, and community gardens, in addition to connecting with services such as local WIC and Meals on Wheels can provide subsidized, fresh produce.


To tackle specific diet-related diseases consider implementing these dietary changes tailored to each condition: 


  •  Obesity:  Prioritize whole foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, plant-proteins and healthy fats. Reduce saturated fat intake, sugary beverages and ultra processed foods/snacks. Practice portion control and incorporate regular physical activity. Correct hormone or metabolism conditions with proper methods.

  • Type 2 Diabetes: Manage type 2 diabetes by choosing complex carbohydrates, fiber-rich foods at each meal. Limit ultra processed foods and sugary snacks to stabilize blood sugar levels. 

  • Cardiovascular Disease: Protect heart health by reducing intake of saturated and trans fats. Choose plant-based proteins (beans, lentils, peas, tofu), yogurts and “cheese” spreads and healthy fats (olives, avocados, etc). Increase omega-3 intake from fatty fish, nuts, and seeds. Prioritize whole foods and minimize sodium and added sugars. 


2. Partake in culturally Tailored Nutrition Education and Counselling: 

Seek out nutrition education and counseling programs that are tailored to your cultural preferences and dietary traditions. These programs can help you make healthier choices that align with your cultural background. Remember, at 360Girls&Women®, we offer these culturally tailored programs to support your journey towards better health.  You can also find culturally aligned dietitians at Cultured Health - a digital healthcare app that connects dietitians to clients based on culture.


3. Embrace Physical Activity and Lifestyle Changes: 

Incorporate regular physical activity into your routine and consider making lifestyle changes to support your health goals. This may include joining exercise programs, adopting healthier cooking habits, and finding ways to reduce stress. 


Key Takeaways 

Malnutrition (undernutrition or over-nutrition) impacts millions of women and girls worldwide, harming their health and well-being. Despite recognition of these issues, progress in addressing women's nutritional needs is limited. Inadequate nutrition affects not only women's health but also their children's development. Addressing women's malnutrition is vital for improving maternal and child health, reducing disease transmission, and enhancing women's productivity and empowerment. Promoting gender equality and empowering women in health and nutrition decision-making are crucial for achieving these goals and advancing development objectives. 


Per Cleveland Clinic, here are some signs/symptoms of malnutrition (undernutrition): 


  • Low body weight, prominent bones, depleted fat and muscle. 

  • Thin arms and legs with edema or swelling with fluid in your belly and face. 

  • Stunted growth and intellectual development in children. 

  • Weakness, faintness and fatigue. 

  • Irritability, apathy or inattention. 

  • Dry, inelastic skin, rashes and lesions. 

  • Brittle hair, hair loss and hair pigment loss. 

  • Frequent and severe infections. 

  • Low body temperature, unable to get warm. 

  • Low heart rate and blood pressure. 


Over-nutrition signs/symptoms 


  • Obesity. 

  • High blood pressure. 

  • Insulin resistance. 

  • Heart disease.  

For women and girls struggling with malnutrition, 360Girls&Women® offers vital support services. Through tailored nutrition programs and empowerment initiatives, we help women overcome health challenges and thrive. Seek assistance today and take steps towards a healthier future with 360Girls&Women®



Blog Medically reviewed by Sue-Ellen Anderson-Haynes, MS, RDN, CDCES, LDN, NASM-CPT, Women's Health Dietitian, Wellness Practitioner, Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist, Women's Fitness Specialist Certified Personal Trainer, & Founder - 360Girls&Women®

 

 Sue-Ellen Anderson Haynes, MS, RDN, CDCES, LDN, NASM-CPT, founder of 360Girls&Women® Award Winning and Nationally recognized nutrition and food expert and leading global expert in Gestational Diabetes. "What makes us different?"360 represents completion. At 360 G+W we provide personalized insight to help girls and women dramatically improve their wellbeing.​Our mission is to provide evidence-based information and services to help maximize a woman's complete health through the complete life-cycle - preventing, managing, and reversing certain reproductive and chronic illnesses- using nutrition as the foundation along with other innovative holistic practices. Read more.


 

References  

PRB. (2003, July 21). Nutrition of Women and Adolescent Girls: Why It Matters. Population Reference Bureau. https://www.prb.org/resources/nutrition-of-women-and-adolescent-girls-why-it-matters/ 

Satia J. A. (2009). Diet-related disparities: understanding the problem and accelerating solutions. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 109(4), 610–615. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jada.2008.12.019 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2729116/ 

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