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April 18, 2002


Actuality: approx. 18.2M

Today, Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson launched a new campaign aiming to get more people committed to seeing a doctor on a regular basis. The "Take Your Loved One To The Doctor Day" Campaign is a national initiative targeting racial and ethnic minorities, particularly African Americans, who are less likely to make routine visits to see a health professional. Take Your Loved One To the Doctor Day, slated for September 24, is sending a strong message to minority communities -- that prevention and early detection of health problems is a number one priority.

For too many racial and ethnic minorities in our country, good health is elusive. Health status is too correlated to race, gender and economic level.

Just as important are lifestyle factors -- nutrition, exercise and tobacco use play a key role in determining health status.

Health disparities among racial and ethnic minorities compared to the U.S. population as a whole have existed since the government started keeping track of such statistics. These disparities persist, and in some areas, continue to grow.

African-Americans suffer disproportionately from diabetes, heart disease and other medical problems. African-Americans are twice as likely to die from diabetes than whites, for example.

I'm especially concerned about our children -- Type 2 diabetes is on the rise in African-American children.

We can defeat this. We've got to watch what we eat and reduce some weight. I'm on a diet and I've got the whole Department on a diet. And when you take your children out when they come home after school, play with them on the playground instead of watching TV. Thirty minutes a day ... losing 10 to 15 pounds can reduce the risk of diabetes by 60 percent. Now that isn't that difficult. We can do that, ladies and gentlemen, and we can live a lot healthier lives.

Take a Loved One to the Doctor Day is part of an ongoing partnership between HHS and ABC Radio Networks called Closing the Health Gap, which aims to reduce disparities in health care for African Americans. Closing the Health Gap combines the resources of HHS and ABC Radio to inform, educate, challenge and empower African-Americans to change behaviors by providing lifestyle tips and information on local sources of health care and public health programs. Health information on key disparity areas such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease, HIV/AIDS, stroke, infant mortality and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome will be available on all 240 ABC Radio Urban Advantage radio stations, and through the Closing the Health Gap Website and toll-free hotline. For more information, visit the Closing the Health Gap Web site at, or call the hotline at 1-800-444-6472.


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Last revised: April 19, 2002