Obesity Is A Major Health Problem In Communities Of Color
Written by Angela Grant
It is said the Black men prefer Black women with more meat.
No other ethnic group has a higher obesity rate than African-American women. According to a 2012 study by the CDC (Exploring the Causes of Black Women’s Obesity), four out of five Black women are overweight or obese. 4/5. Obesity is associated with poor health outcomes and with increased risk of Type II diabetes, heart disease and several cancers.
‘Obesity’ is clinically defined by Body Mass Index (BMI). This is a formula based on the height and weight and does not consider culture or age. The BMI formula is Weight (kg) / (Height (m)x Height (m)). A value of 25 or above is the clinical definition of ‘overweight’ and 30 ‘obese’.
Normal weight = 19-24.9; Overweight = 25-29.9; Obese =30+
There are many factors that contribute to obesity, with poor eating habits and unhealthy lifestyles major factors as well as cultural, economic, environmental and social factors. Many African-Americans live in poverty where healthy foods and safe spaces are inaccessible or severely limited. Healthy foods are either not available or too expensive. Living in say a poor Chicago neighborhood might not be best place for a leisurely walk or jog.
Some studies suggest chronic discrimination results in overeating and sedentary lifestyles that lead to obesity. Another study by James Fowler and Nicholas Christakis showed each individual has 3 degrees of influence. While this study was about social networks and not obesity, it showed that if your friends are obese not only are you most likely to be obese, but friends of friends are likely also to be (Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives).
While cultural, economic or environmental factors are very difficult to alter, we can change our lifestyles. However challenging! First is to commit to the change. Next is to become educated about food.
And there is a lot to know about food. Even so-called ‘healthy foods’ may not be healthy, because they have pesticides or have used GMO (debatable) to produce it.
Whatever, find creative ways to increase activity level without risking life or limb.
Other solutions involve communities working together, such as #urbanfarming and the Canadian mobile food markets as discussed here [Metro Buses Converted Into Mobile Food Markets For Low Income Neighborhoods ]
If Canada has such schemes there is no reason why we in the USA cannot also end our food deserts. For the sake of our health, and nurturing healthier children, let’s get slimmer and fitter…