Saturday, October 20, 2007

1 in 6 Black Women Morbidly Obese

"While we're all generally getting fatter, the real burden of morbid obesity is falling disproportionately on one group of Americans: black women. According to a 2002 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), women in general are about twice as likely as men to be morbidly obese, but a sobering 1 in 6 Black women is that overweight--"
--from microtrends, the small forces beind tomorrow's big changes , by Mark J. Penn, with E. Kinney Zalesne (emphasis mine)

My sistahs deserve better. While I've always appreciated and benefited from the African-American cultural admiration of the classic coke-bottle figure, as a group we've gone way beyond that. This is no longer about a subjective standard of beauty. This is our health and happiness we're risking. We are the fattest group of people in one of the fattest countries on the planet, and we have black female celebrities telling us to embrace our obesity. Am I the only one who thinks that's crazy?

Should we embrace being out of breath from a walk around the block? Should we embrace avoiding stairs because our knees ache from carrying the extra bulk? Should we embrace a future tainted by diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and depression?

How surprised I was to look at a BMI chart and find out I qualified as obese! At just over 5'4" and 176 lbs (that's where I stopped weighing myself, but I'm pretty sure I added a couple after that), it seems ridiculous that the discovery could come as a shock. I knew I was fat. That was obvious, but I had never applied a medical term, like "obesity" to my state. Fortunately for me, I made the necessary changes, and the term no longer fits.

Looking around at social events, or at a local mall, or a predominantly black church, I can't help but notice it. We're outpacing everyone in growing wider. The good thing is, it's preventable and reversible. If you're in shape, reach out to someone who isn't. Invite them over for a healthy meal or out for a walk. Be the one who brings a delicious but healthy dish to the next family dinner. If you're a little out of shape, decide if you're satisfied, but if you're just plain fat, be real about it. Take a serious look at your habits and address the ones that got you there. Forget the fad diets and other extreme solutions, but seek out help if you don't know where to start.

Life is too short to spend it avoiding dressing room mirrors, so we don't have to face our hips and thighs, or crashing on the couch because getting up and doing something takes too much effort. Black women, believe me, you deserve better.


Margaret said...

In my neck of the woods (New York City), all too often, I hear African American and Hispanic women say that African American and Hispanic men prefer heftier women or women "with meat on them". This seems to be a cultural issue,as it is with other subcultures in the US (and, likely, other similarly culturally-mixed countries)
Unfortunately, multi-culturalism supports the concept that what is acceptable in a given culture should not be denied. As a result, it can be difficult to persuade some people that "hefty" is not necessarily "healthy", and although "big" may be "beautiful" in the eyes of some, it is not necessarily a "bountiful" health situation.

The situation, thus, becomes not only one of health education but, also one of changing cultural values.

Rich Murray said...
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Raw Food said...

No, you are not the only one who thinks that's crazy! Embrasing an unhealthy lifestyle because some sad celebrities say to do so is so wrong! Forget celebrities - go raw for your health, your self and your life! Change you food - change your life! Go sisters!

G. A. James said...

G. A. James wrote
Yes far too many black women are obese. I remember speaking to a woman from Nigeria, who was concerned that she was losing too much weight, she was 5ft 3 inches, regularly weighs 189 lbs. she got down to 168 lbs, and complained that she is getting too slim(CRAZY OR WHAT) and she preferred to be 189 lbs. Hey who am I to tell someone else what they should aspire to. We have to be honest, there are many black women who are satisfied being fat, they do not want to change, they do not have the discipline to change, and they never will change. Why would we waste our precious time and energy on helping them. There is so much information out there stating that fat is unhealthy, unnatural and unnattractive. Fat black women know the score and still do not do anything about it. Let us all leave them alone,and improve our own selves.

You may wnat to gear your blogs to the SISTAH'S like myself, who prefer to be slim, healthy, positive and who want to and who will improve.

Candice Davis said...

G.A. - I'm glad you're a sistah that's down with health. My heart is made happy every time I find one.
Still, I don't give up on anyone, even if they profess to be happy with their size, because I've seen the damage caused by unhealthy eating. Size is just a symptom of what's going on inside. I can't force anyone to change, but I'll keep sharing info with anyone willing to listen. Some people really don't know how to change and/or appreciate why it's important. Given the information, it's each individuals choice as to what to do with it.