Wellness, not just thinness, is African-American goal

June 15, 2011

Supermarkets that serve Black constituencies should raise the health and wellness profile in their stores.

In response to dire food-related health issues, African-Americans are watching their diet to improve general wellness rather than solely to lose weight, indicates new Mintel research.

First, some key concerns from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality:

  • Various studies show African-Americans are 1.4 to 2.2 times more likely to have diabetes than white persons.   
  • The rate of diabetic end-stage renal disease is 2.6 times higher among African-Americans than whites. 
  • African-Americans have much higher rates of hypertension than whites.

Moreover, the Office of Minority Health, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, reports that:

  • African-American women have the highest rates of being overweight or obese vs. other groups in the U.S. About four out of five African-American women are overweight or obese.
  • In 2009, African Americans were 1.5 times as likely to be obese as Non-Hispanic whites. Also, African-American women were 60% more likely to be obese than Non-Hispanic white women.

The latest Mintel findings show that 70% of African-American adults limiting the amount of foods and/or the kinds of foods they eat do so to improve general wellness; 52% do so to prevent or control high blood pressure; 46% want to maintain their current weight. 

“Black adults are concerned with controlling cholesterol, blood sugar levels, hypertension, salt intake and other health-related issues. [They need] effective targeted solutions….Dieting simply to be thinner isn’t as important,” says Leylha Ahuile, senior multicultural analyst at Mintel. “Marketers should emphasize elements of delicious taste to make healthier products more appealing to Black consumers.”

The Lempert Report sees these findings as key insights for supermarkets to serve the better-for-you dietary goals of African-American consumers, and to earn their ongoing business.