PITTSBURG -- African-Americans in Contra Costa County are more likely to have diabetes and high blood pressure than other racial groups, a disparity that an upcoming health expo geared toward black residents hopes to turn around.

Black residents in the county have a shorter life expectancy than other racial and ethnic groups and were at a greater risk for a number of poor health outcomes, according to a 2010 report prepared for Contra Costa Health Services.

"The rate of African-Americans suffering from diabetes or hypertension, obesity or heart problems is much higher than most other races," said Lynette Watts, chair of the African-American Health Empowerment Collaborative. "That's why we really want to try and help improve the health of individuals and families by not only calling attention to it but educating the community in a way that is practical."

The African-American Health Empowerment Collaborative was formed three years ago by East County residents to educate the community and demonstrate preventive measures to improve health.

To that end, the health collaborative, Los Medanos Community Healthcare District, California Black Health Network, John Muir Health, Kaiser Permanente, American Heart Association, Sutter Delta Medical Center and Contra Costa Health Services are sponsoring the African-American Empowerment Health Expo on Saturday.

"We want to create healthy living and not just a one-day event," said Bobbi Palmer, executive director of the Healthcare District.

Nutrition, and ways to avoid unhealthy foods, will be addressed during the event.


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"Salt, sugar and fat. When you look at what we eat in our community, we can have (healthier lives) just by making the healthy decisions daily in terms of diet," she said. "The other piece of healthy living is 30 minutes of increased physical activity daily."

The keynote speaker is Aaron G. Perry, an African-American diabetic who competes in triathlon athletic competition events. Speakers and workshops will address a variety of health issues, including stress, high blood pressure, diet and weight control, and provide information about obtaining health insurance through the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

Some 40 resource tables will be staffed by health and community groups.

"After the Health Expo, we want people to be referred elsewhere," said Cynthia Garrett, community health advocate with the Center for Human Development's African-American Wellness Program.

Free fresh produce will also be distributed and free on-site child care will also be provided. Healthy cooking demonstrations, lunch, exercise sessions, including Zumba and line dancing, and entertainment will also be provided. There will be a juicing demonstration.

"Everyone thinks you have to have a $300 juicer. That's not the case," said Marion DePuit, manager of the Faith and Health Partnership at John Muir Health.

The first expo was held in 2011 and attracted about 400 participants. This time around, event sponsors are hoping for a turnout of 600.

Contact Eve Mitchell at 925-779-7189. Follow her on Twitter.com/EastCounty_Girl.

IF YOU GO
What: African-American Empowerment Health Expo
When: Sept. 21 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Where: Pittsburg High School, 1750 Harbor Street
Admission: Free
Info: 925-687-8844, ext. 225