Hurricane, which made landfall near New Orleans on August 29, 2005, slammed not only the infrastructure of the city but also the personal lives of many New Orleanians. Before the devastation of Katrina, New Orleans was a city on the move to make improvements in government, business, and health care. However, the impact of Katrina exaggerated the city’s weaknesses and dramatically postponed any improvements that were being made. Now more than two years later, the city is dealing with issues that existed before the storm in addition to new challenges that have been presented in the wake of Katrina. Of these challenges, restructuring the health care system is at the forefront. was the second largest hospital, which boasted the second best Level 1 trauma center in the nation. This hospital which served largely the uninsured African American population now stands vacant in downtown New Orleans. Because of this huge loss, many African Americans are not able to receive the health care that is needed. To make matters worse, the rates of uninsured have dramatically increased because many people have lost their jobs. In addition, many foreign workers are now in New Orleans without health insurance. Because of this increase in the uninsured population and decrease in hospitals, there simply are not enough beds to accommodate the health care needs of the city. Therefore, improvements need to be made in not only increasing health care availability, but also in preventative measures. Preventing and reducing the already high rates in New Orleans can make a huge impact in reducing the dependency of the African American community on a bleak health care system.
Of the many preventative measures that can be taken, reducing rates of obesity can drastically prevent many of the diseases that plague the African American community. According to the U.S Department of Health and Human Services, half of Americans are overweight or obese which are attributed to over 300,000 deaths per year. Health care costs in 2000 as a result of obesity reached $117 billion. Many studies have found that diseases related to obesity include but are not limited to heart disease, diabetes, cancer, sleep apnea, arthritis and reproductive complications. New Orleans, is currently in the top 20 as the fattest cities in America. The CDC reports that 61.5% percent of New Orleans citizens are overweight, 27,5% or obese, 21% consume five or more fruits per day, and only 24.4% achieve the recommended level of physical activity. Clearly, obesity is a common health condition, that if controlled, can drastically reduced the chronic health conditions associated with it.