The main key to our success is our health which produces a strong mind & body. If this deteriorates, it’s virtually impossible to build & maintain any business, entrepreneurship & a strong community. Recently, Black media, community activists and various individuals have identified an ever present increasing obesity rate and epidemic amongst Black/African American women in recent years. This issue has become a more frequent topic on nightly news television programs and talk radio shows, especially Black talk radio. This is brought up more on Black Talk Radio because Black / African American women in the community have the lead-and in fact- literally won the overweight/obesity race. Print media journalists have also bought up this issue recently. Journalist Derrick K. Baker of INDOGO MAGAPAPER stated in an article in May, 2011 titled…“BLACK WOMEN, TESTOSTERONE and a BEHOLDER’S JAUNDICED EYE“ that…
“Black women are on an average much heavier than non-Black women. The mean body-mass index (BMI) at wave III is 28.5 among Black women and 26.1 among non-Black women”.
And even more recently, FOX News reported that Black women are leading in the percentages being overweight, with Hispanic women coming in second and White women placing third.
But these journalists and media personalities are either dodging or not addressing the reasons why this phenomenon is happening amongst African American women.
I agree that there’s a major epidemic of obesity amongst Black women that is steadily growing –especially with Black women under 30. There evidence is overwhelming if you’re anyone who goes out and travels though the African American communities & other’s in our cities. Although there’s an overall overweight problem in America that encompasses other ethnic groups (mostly Caucasian’s & Hispanic’s) the percentages-for the most part of this high level of very overweight & obesity with other cultures is not the average. With Black /African American women, the percentage has now surged to more of the majority.
As I recalled this past year, riding Public Transportation on the South Side of Chicago, I noticed how many Black women boarding the busses were overweight, and I don’t just mean slightly overweight but literally obese. When I boarded a bus one morning, there were no women on the bus, but after 2 stops at least 5 very large or obeist women boarded the bus at the same stop almost one after the other. Another day, I counted at least 10 -12 obeist women out of 14 on a public transit train car. Some of these women are so obeist that they take up literally two seats, making less room for people to sit down. These numbers are repeated day after day literally 24/7 at every turn in every city in the Black community and abroad whether you’re on a bus, train, long distance traveling or walking the streets. And by the way, airline & other transit companies are passing regulations that if you are obese and take up two seats, you have to pay for two seats. This is their way of making up for the loss seat that a customer would occupy.
There’s no age discretion in the obesity phenomenon amongst Black women as many young Black females under 13 are flirting with the overweight to obese category as well. Childhood obesity is higher than ever in this country as one out of 3 children is either obese or overweight. This phenomenon is also a state of emergency because extreme obesity in children can be very life threatening. Some fast food restaurants are combating the epidemic by limiting portions and or calories in their products while listing their contents and nutritional percentage. Michelle Obama also spearheaded a personal crusade to address & combat this issue. Some legislators are even lobbying for a stature to take away extreme obese children from their parents to gain control of their weight. This is extremely detrimental to the Black community since the Black family structure is already broken up with fatherless children. This extreme move shows the magnitude of this situation and it also gives the powers that be an excuse to further break up the Black Family for we know that Blacks will be targeted mostly if this legislature is passed.
Now if almost 80% - as in about 7 to 8 out of 10 Black women are overweight with at least 40% of this percentage are obese –then this indeed qualifies as an epidemic.
After close observation, it’s becoming more obvious that this epidemic of very overweight & obesity in Black women is apparently a cultural thing or shall we say... is now a norm for Black women to be overweight and it’s literally socially acceptable, but the Media and Black women still makes excuses for this outbreak.
Recently, I heard a Black talk radio host stating that obesity in the African America community is among poor people because there are no stores in the impoverished/neglected communities carrying nutritional products. THAT’S CRAP! If this were the case, why aren’t the majority of Black males, especially the young ones very overweight to obese??? The males are under the same stress as females-in fact- the males that are in gangs carry even more stress because of the lifestyle and environment- so if this explanation were true, the majority of young & older Black males would be breaking the scales also. I thought this person is either making weak or consoling excuses for overweight/ obese Black women or he doesn’t know what he’s talking about. And I don’t buy the other excuses like testosterone & MSG that’s also floating around the media. But the main flaw in his and other media personality’s non-researched analogy and ridiculous statement’s is this…
The vast majority of African Americans have been poor since being shipped here from slavery, yet there was never an overweight/ obesity epidemic of this magnitude until the turning of the New Millennium (the year 2000) and there was much less attention, focus, and advice given as well as access and exposure to information on healthy eating & exercise technique’s. Keep in mind that there were no media outlets (Television, Internet, Radio…etc) back in those days yet the average Black woman through those many, many years remained relatively slender and or at least weight/height proportionate despite the stress they had to endure. But to be fair, depending how far back you go in time, there were much less, little or no fast food restaurants in those days as well, along with the mass marketing and exposure we have today. And if you go even further back in time and read ancient Egyptian literature, the hieroglyphics on the walls in the Sphinx, Pyramids… etc. and look at the women depicted in the drawings, you won’t see not ONE significantly overweight or obese woman in the thousands of depictions of our Egyptian Queens. And let’s not forget the media/television messages/shows of maintaining a proper weight, healthy dieting and exercise like PSA announcements and television commercials by Jenny Craig, Richard Simmons, Seattle Sutton, Weight Watchers (currently represented by Jenifer Hudson), Cheerios, Subway, and infomercials for exercise equipment and videos… etc- that’s been airing for many years that people see at least 5 -8 times a day, let alone adding shows like “The WORLDS BIGGEST LOOSER”, “EXTREME MAKEOVER: WEIGHT LOSTT EDITION” and “SHEDDING FOR THE WEDDING” that’s directly marketed to women.
The Neilson ratings/studies (Television Viewing/Rating System) show that African Americans-especially the females, watch more TV than any other ethnic group in the country, yet despite the heavy saturation of health consciousness in the media, which is at the highest level in American history, Black women grow bigger every decade. Hmmmm, so much for the Black talk show host and other weak excuses for this overweight/obesity epidemic amongst African American women.
To get a better grasp of what’s going on; first let’s go over some documented key points.
1. Most- I do say-MOST stores in poor /impoverished communities have basically the same BASIC/NATURAL nutritional products that any other store have in White & or up scaled middle to upper class communities; fruits, vegetables, nuts, grains & fiber’s, water’s & poultry, fish, milk, beans-and in some cases vitamin water’s & energy drinks. The big chain stores in the Black community carry these items plus some health oriented products as well... I.E. Food for Less, Aldi, Save-A-Lot, Jewel and Dominick’s. The main reason why these small stores don’t carry many popular Nutritional products like the vitamin waters, fresher produce, Nutritional bars… etc- is because there’s no demand from their customers and community. The supply in demand theory is what drives stores to keep in stock what their customers buy most frequently. It’s all up to the choices people make at these stores. If Blacks were to put pressure on the owners to purchase these items then they would stock up on them to increase sales and profits. A big reason why Blacks aren’t requesting these items at their local corner stores is because of the lack of health consciousness in the community and complacency. Many are too focused on other keeping up with the Jones’s Symbolisms. A recent poll shows that Blacks purchase of fresh produce is an average of $69.00 p/ family- the lowest of all ethnic groups. Hispanics come in second @ $80.00, Whites third @ $140.00 and Asians fourth @ $179.00 p/month. Black also buys more juices-particularly high sugar based juices more than any other group of people.
2. This epidemic is not exclusive to the poor or lower-class sectors of the Black community. You also see mid to upper class Black women of all ages in this range also, but I do admit those numbers are a bit less. You also see both poor & middleclass Black women traveling to downtown’s and eating out of restaurants as well as in other communities where they work or visit to shop from various stores. However, you never see them drinking any water, eating fruit (bananas) nuts, etc. but you do see them carrying McDonalds, Popeye’s, KFC & Garrets Popcorn bags, drinking supersize McDonalds pops & eating garbage like cheese fries, potato chips, flaming hots, pizza puffs, salt loaded gyros & other sodium soaked product’s from other fast-food joints & stores all over town. In the workforce, in offices you see worker’s running to McDonalds’ and other fast food breakfast spots first thing in the morning to have greasy breakfast’s to eat at their desks. Many do not work off their breakfast because they mostly have desk jobs.
3. All of your popular Ma & Pa & fast food joints and are in other areas/communities as well… including the up scaled & gold coast like areas where you see Arab/Middle Eastern, Asian & other cultures occasionally partaking at many restaurant & fast food hot spots. In fact, these middle to upper income communities have even MORE high cholesterol /fast food joints due to the vast amounts of, Pizza Joints, Thai, Indonesian, Middle Eastern, Belizean, Ethiopian and other various ethnic restaurants, buffalo wing joints, regular bars, sports bars, clubs and entertainment centers with junk food menus, but you still don’t see large numbers of vastly overweight yuppies & other female ethnic groups. These groups/classes don’t allow their women to exceed excessive weight gain let alone obesity. You could say they kept each other in check through their support system. In contrast, African American women kept each other in check until the late 80’s. Also, other ethnic women are in fierce competition to have the shapeliest slender builds to attract their men and for their health. When you see them indulging about town, they’re drinking Fruit Smoothies, Water, Lemonades and eating fruit cups, yogurts, bananas… etc. , not super size McDonalds pops and carrying Popeye’s & other fast/junk food bags. Throughout my traversing about and attending functions in all communities over the years, I have not saw one obese jihad (Islamic) wearing or even a Nation of Islam (Black Islamic) woman yet! They’re all taught and are very well disciplined in maintaining their health and dieting regiments and many of them are also mostly poor or at least low to mid income as are African Americans. Fast food restaurants aren’t just planted in big cities, they’re in the suburbs, small towns and all across the countries plains and highways. What do you see when you get to a roadside oasis or truck stop? A greasy spoon, diner Restaurant, McDonalds and gas stations with all kinds of junk foods. Ride an Amtrak train and visit the food car and what do you see??? Much of the same. Unhealthy food emporiums are in your face wherever you go. If our ethnic counterparts and classes across the Nation has access to all these fatty / unhealthy food outlets, yet they maintain their Health and a decent weight ratio, then African American women shouldn’t have this very high overweight/obesity rate issue.
4. There are very little excuses for excessive weight gain, yet many Black women will come up with any excuse to justify their overweightness. It was recently reported that many Black women blamed their hair styles for not going to the gym or working out at home for fear of messing up their hair. This is no excuse because 1. Many overweight Black women (mostly Lower Income) don’t have their hair done on a regular basis for lack of funds- and 2. This doesn’t stop White women from working out on a regular basis when they get their hair done regularly and 3. Working out is only part of the solution. Eating the right foods at the right time is what reduces weight gain with working out at all. I’ve also heard thyroids used as a popular excuse for this outbreak, but this is also weak. 80% of Black women DO NOT have thyroid problems. If this were true, if they didn’t have their thyroid removed and their weight grew to obesity, they would be dead so don’t by the excuse on crediting these numbers to thyroids.
SO WHEN DID IT START AND WHY IS THIS SO???
First let me make it clear that this analogy and article does not pertain to every obese woman- but the majority. Let’s wind the clock back to the mid to late 80’s when it was still in to be slim & trim. Hip hop was born and Afro’s were replaced by fades. This long & growing trend started and was personified with Rap/Hip Hop artist Sir Mix-A-lots runaway hit song /video “Baby Got Back”- geared towards the hip hop community. The song and video showcased suggestive lyrics and large big hipped / booty women, some of which were on the verge of being fat, sought out by the artist Sir-Mix-A-Lot stating how he likes big buts & hips and seeking more of these body type females. The video was shown constantly day & night on all the Hip Hop & Black video channels/shows from cable to free TV. This never before –somewhat revolutionary video opened the doors-or shall I say- gave young Black girls the go sign to put on the pounds to look like the women in that video. We all know the youth emulates the stars or in this case -the desired women in these videos. Up till then the status quo for women in risqué music videos were the slender to waif model types.
Black women-especially the very young are very competitive. Once the young women saw how the brotha’s lead by Sir-Mix-A-Lot loved the full figured women, they all felt it necessary to pour on the syrupy pancakes, Popeys Chicken.... etc. but they didn’t know how to CONTROL THE WEIGHT so not only did the hips & butt’s got bigger, but also the stomach, face & everything else.
As the “Baby Got Back” generation aged into their 20’s & 30’s, the weight gain got more out of control because they didn’t have a proper dieting regiment and failed to exercise. The weight grew to obesity in many cases as today some are well into their 40’s. Coincidently, next generations followed suit as the trend became the norm as these females became mother’s and passed their unhealthy / poor eating habits to their children affecting future generations by repeating they cycle. By the late 90’s the minority of overweight Black females escalated and began to turn to the majority. As this cultural change progressed, the majority of younger Black males began accepting and liking larger Black women as the quest to seek out the full, thicker –big bootied, apple bottom women became the status quo.
To this day, almost 25 years later Sir Mix-A-Lots “Baby Got Back” can still be heard in selected clubs and bars from time to time. Because overweight Black females are now socially accepted in the Black community and have been the majority norm since the late 90’s, many Black females weighing less than 160 pounds or of a slender build believe they are skinny even if they have shapely hips and buttocks. Today, it’s seems literally like it’s in to be fat, or at the very least with very large hips and butt. The norm is so prevalent it’s almost like young & older Black women are in competition to be the sexiest large big booty/ fat bulging divas on the block. I personally know women at 140-150 pounds who feels they need to get up to at least 160-170 pounds or so because of the norm.
Around the year 2000, the term BBW was popularized and was commonly used by large to obese Black women. Simultaneously, the anthem like phrase or saying…”Only a dog wants a bone”… was also launched and used to downplay men who liked or talked to slender or fit women by the proud BBW’S. This made very large Black women feel better about themselves and their size. In 2004, I was told this commonly used phrase by a friend and after hearing it so many times in passing from females, I coined the antithesis phrase to this bias statement… “But Only a Wolf Wants a Pig”. I urged Black males to use this phrase whenever an overweight/ obese Black woman threw their anthem-like egotistic battle-cry phrase at them. I also created this phrase because the average Black male that cheated on their overweight partners mostly did it with a much smaller or slender woman. I was also told by another Black female… “I’m not going to look like a skinny White girl”. So now in some sectors of the Black female community, being thin or slender (and sometimes in shape) is like trying to be White. All of these factors results in this practice of the perpetuations of the new obesity tradition amongst Black women. This overweight phenomenon is also a bi-product of the disfunctionality in the Black community along with the pants sagging/hanging down to the ground, the shuffling & spitting and the females clothes so tight they can’t breathe as their bellies hangs over/bulging out while their but cracks traverse from their low-rider pants. Young Black males are far less heavy and in many cases slim to cut due to the proliferation of prison culture to street culture over the years, as is credited for the sagging pants origin. The young Black (Hip Hop/Gang Bang influenced) males are also under more pressure to be slim & cut with six-pack’s with some young males using weights to work out with each other in some households. This is due to the cut rap artists they admire & emulate plus the many young Black males in the last 10 – 25 years that have been in prison and upon their release carried much of that culture back into the hood.
This is a grave health emergency (situation) that’s needs immediate attention because since this is an obesity epidemic of Black women of all ages, unfortunately in the next 20 -30 years, there will be an equally devastating epidemic of heart disease & attacks, strokes, hypertension, diabetes, high blood pressure and certain cancers and other maladies amongst Black women- not to mention the great numbers that will die from massive heart attacks & strokes if they don’t lose the weight. But the final by-product of this domino effect with issue is the expected increased care cost as many will need Personal Home/Health care assistants as they age with these illnesses. So this epidemic will spawn by-product epidemics of illnesses and home care cases. There’s already not enough government or corporate funds available for these services as some health/home care assistants have already lost clients or jobs due to the economy. Increasing numbers of Black females (many under 30) have already developed at least one or two of these symptoms/ailments today. In 2008 obesity related Healthcare cost were approximately $147 billion. That number will obviously escalate to over $400 billion per year by the year 2020 as the effects of their poor/bad health kicks in. There are already cases of young Blacks in their 20’s having heart attacks with some resulting in death. This also translates into MEGABUCKS for Doctors, Physicians and Pharmaceutical companies that are dishing out the various medications and eventually funeral homes that will cash in during this time.
So let’s keep this obesity hype very real! It’s not about being poor, but a cultural phenomenon that hopefully someday will pass. It’s about exercise whether it’s in the morning, noon or night. You never see overweight people (the ones who need to do this the most) taking the stairs instead of using the escalator’s when leaving a train station or even going into buildings using the elevator’s where they only have to walk up one or two flights of stairs. I must add that society as a whole is guilty of this as well. It’s all about eating the right foods at the right time. It’s about drinking at least 4 glasses of water in a 24 hour period. It’s about not eating at fast food restaurants on a regular basis but in moderation. It’s about reconditioning your digestive system and your attitude to a healthy diet (eating) regiment!
Finally, I must add the contributors to fast weight gain & obesity. Much of today’s foods contain growth hormones to fatten up cattle, pigs, fish and even some fruits & veggies in some cases. When you eat these foods, they add weight to your system and can affect your metabolism.
The latest statistics show that…
Up to 90% of U.S. soybeans, corn, cotton, canola and sugar beets are now genetically engineered and routinely inserted into human and animal foods with no labels or safety testing. And approximately 80% of current grocery food items contain GMOs; while according to U.S. Department of Agriculture statistics, the majority of beef, pork, poultry, diary, and eggs come from CAFOs.
Considering the growing concern over GMOs and CAFOs, your store should clearly identify all non-organic food products containing soy, corn, cottonseed oil, canola, sugar beets or GM growth hormones with a label or shelf sign that says “May Contain GMOs” and identify all meat, diary, and eggs that come from CAFOS with a label or shelf sign that says “SAFO”. You must begin to purchase only organic foods to avoid this from happening to you. Yes, organic foods cost a bit more but isn’t your health worth it? This is what the government is all about. Fattening us up-especially Black Folks-for the Kill! With all the evidence and variables concerning this issue, people – focusing on African American females- must take their Health very seriously.
If you’re wondering what is the right regiment (combination) to lose those extra pounds then I have an answer for that. There is a failsafe dieting plan/regiment that anyone (male or female) can follow that allows you to continue enjoying the foods you love but in moderation. This regiment is one that will make you lose the weight and gain body muscle at the same time (with exercise) and if you want to know this regiment, you can obtain it on the website MFN (Multifacet Network) on their “HEALTH & WELLNESS” page @ www.multifacetnet.com . This page also contains other vital health information including a list of the super foods.
I am living proof of the effectiveness of this regiment for I lost almost 100 pounds when following this regiment to the max! And to this day I still follow it religiously and very easily! A great dieting regiment is not meant to lose weight then to go back to your old eating habits; it’s a way of life. Believe me, your body and mind will get used to it as it will come naturally!
So if you’re one of the overweight to obese women just following a trend (keeping up with the norm's) to be sociably acceptable or just doesn’t care about your health, think of your's, your childrens and our overall future and don’t follow the next person to bad health ailments and an early grave. Stayyyyy focused!