Obesity in African American Women: Eat Smart and Move More
Ever wonder why obesity is so rampant in African American women? Why 4 out of 5 black women are overweight, obese, and/or lacking in physical fitness? According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which is by far the highest percentage of any group in the U.S.
Many researchers have considered this question, and they have come up with a variety of interesting answers. A common one is because African Americans are constant targets of advertising and promotions for high calorie foods and beverages that may contribute to the obesity epidemic, a study in the American Journal of Public Health reported. Because these marketing strategies encourage excessive eating, they predispose people to gain weight and, therefore, put them at risk for a host of health problems, including heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and stroke. Even the risk of arthritis grows by 9 to 13 percent for every two-pound increase in your weight.
Targeted marketing of blacks also extols large portion sizes, junk food and the “affordable” cost of fast foods versus more healthy options. There’s even a cultural explanation for why African American women tend to be obese: they associate food with social gatherings and friendship, and believe that rejecting food put on their plate – even if it’s a heaping portion – might be seen as an insult or taken the wrong way by their host.
If the reasons for obesity among black women are complex, the solutions to the problem are fairly straightforward. Through proper diet and exercise you can better manage your weight and keep serious disease at bay. Keep in mind what we call the “Calorie Formula.” What this means is that in order to lose weight you must burn off more calories than you take in. To lose one to two pounds a week, you need to burn 500 to 1,000 calories more than you consume each day.
Exercise, of course, is a great way to shed pounds by burning off more calories than you ingest. Even if exercise has never been your thing, put yourself on the wellness track by aiming for some kind of physical activity at least 30 minutes a day, five days a week. Regular exercise will not only keep you healthy, but make you look and feel better.
Walking is a great way to get into shape. It’s simple, doesn’t cost a cent, and is a low-impact way to get to a higher level of fitness and health. Take a brisk walk four or five days a week. Also, take the stairs instead of riding in elevators, or park further away from a store than you normally would to force you to walk. The key to exercise is finding something that you like to do, like riding a bike, dancing, gardening or jogging.
Remember the Health Power motto: Knowledge + Action= Power! ™Best wishes for your physical, mental and spiritual health