Obesity in African Americans

Essay by mazaqmatker July 2007

download word file, 10 pages 5.0

Overweight African AmericanAfrican Americans have a disproportionate share of the obesity burden. By the time they reach the age of 50, 80 percent of African-American women and 60 percent of African-American men will be overweight or obese (obesity defined as severely overweight). Rates of obesity in children and adolescents are rapidly increasing as well. In just 10 years, the rate of obesity doubled in adolescents, from 13 percent to 24 percent.

Obesity robs individuals and their families of quality of life. Obesity is associated with arthritis, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, depression, cancer, sleep problems and asthma. These conditions lead to disabilities and death at a young age. While there are multiple consequences of obesity, the causes are much simpler - how you move (calories out) and what and how much you eat (calories in). (Carpenter 2000)We eat too much, and we eat too much of the wrong foods.

In America, food is cheap and plentiful. Many foods exist now that didn't exist in the 1950s and '60s - think of the aisles of processed "food" in the middle of the supermarket. Refined sugar, present in so much of food, did not exist until after 1900. Its increased use paralleled the rise of diabetes, which was an unusual disease before the 20th century. People substitute fruit juices for soda because they believe it is healthier, when in fact; fruit juice is pure sugar and contains more sugar than soda. The fast food industry has targeted African Americans, and it is no accident that fast food restaurants are concentrated in minority neighborhoods. Ironically, supermarket chains often do not go into urban neighborhoods.

Food is political. The food industry is a powerful force in American life. Groups like the Dairy Council, the National Cattleman's Beef Association, and representatives of...