OH NO: 30% of Blacks in 40 States are OBESE, Another Opportunity for Urban Radio?

by Kevin Ross - Posted Friday, July 17th, 2009. Category: Urban/M - Urban/AC

 width=When I lived in Atlanta, after living in LA for 14 years I could not believe how fat some of the black people there were. I’m not talking obese I’m talking WHOA-BEASE. I saw young black girls 21 years of age at 450 pounds or more in the grocery stores in those wheelchair carts with cake, cookies, chicken wings and lard in the cart. It’s as if the people there were going to keep eating to the point of explosion. The obese problem in the black community is OUTRAGEOUS and it’s a GREAT opportunity for Black radio to step in and get their sales departments to create campaigns with local sponsors. With all due respect to Tom Joyner and Dr. Ian Smith, they are not poster children for men in great shape. They are not convincing. You need someone who has gone from wooly mammoth to model physique for the cover of Men’s Fitness or Women’s Fitness.

Blacks were 51 percent more likely and Hispanics were 21 percent more likely to be obese than whites, a disparity that may be linked to cultural attitudes, income and education levels, a U.S. government study found. Thirty percent or more of blacks in 40 states met stand ards for obesity, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s study published in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. In Alabama, Maine, Mississippi, Ohio and Oregon, 40 percent or more of blacks were obese.

The prevalence of obesity, a major cause of diabetes, stroke and heart attacks has more than doubled in the past 30 years in the U.S. Certain ethnic groups have been disproportionately affected, said David Katz, the founder of Yale University’s Prevention Research Center in New Haven, Connecticut. Members of those groups are less likely to live in neighborhoods with fresh produce and streets that are conducive to walking, he said.

“As public health people focused on obesity, we have to ask ourselves, do we look at the disparities in obesity as the icing on the cake, and try to get at the cake?” said Katz, who wasn’t an author on the CDC report, in a telephone interview today. “The differences in education, income, empowerment, resources and community need to be fixed, and it’s not going to happen fast.”

Involving Churches

Katz said he is working on a diabetes-prevention program that includes obesity prevention with African-American churches in the New Haven area. Pastors talk to parishioners about research on the health risks of obesity and offer weight-loss advice, Katz said. Any solution to the obesity problem is likely to be complex, he said.

“The disparities here are easy to explain,” Katz said. “They’re associated with poverty, less education, areas where you can’t find fresh fruits and vegetables, and some cultural differences.”

In these communities, some studies suggest people are satisfied with having a higher body mass. Changing cultural attitudes is important, if difficult, Katz said.

The data was collected using phone surveys from 2006 to 2008. Over the three-year period, 25.6 percent of whites, blacks and Hispanics were obese. The obesity prevalence in this study was likely underestimated because people tend to report being taller and skinner than they actually are, the authors wrote.

Overall, 36 percent of blacks were obese, 29 percent of Hispanics were obese, and 24 percent of whites were obese. Anyone with a body mass index, an estimate of body fat calculated using a person’s height and weight, of 30 or more is considered obese.
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