By Devin Crudup
Obesity has become an epic issue that has driven the need for preventative care.
Although obesity affects all Americans, the root of African American obesity stands out. According to the Office of Minority Health, 70 percent of black men are overweight or obese, as well as 80 percent of black women. Due to this overwhelming statistic, health educators and epidemiologists have expanded their scope beyond the standard suspicions of poor diet and lack of exercise. They have suggested other causes to the African American obesity epidemic.
Lack of Health Education
In urban communities across the country, health education is not a top priority to community leaders. Healthy habits are not discussed at town meetings, and the health status of the population does not make the local NAACP chapters’ agenda. Issues such as the number of STD cases or drug related crimes take the lead in concerns. In some communities being overweight is not only normal, but expected, and these attitudes are a direct result of ignorance in the areas of physical health.
According to the African American Collaborative Obesity Research Network, there is a strong correlation between location and obesity. Studies prove that there are fewer supermarkets in lower income neighborhoods. These areas are dominated by independent stores that, unlike major supermarkets, don’t carry fresh produce. This limited access to fresh fruits and vegetables forces consumers to purchase food low in nutrition instead thus increasing obesity percentages.
Although crime is rampant in suburban areas just as in housing projects, the level of crime visibility is greater in urban areas. Because of possible dangers in these neighborhoods, exercising outdoors, especially at night, is not perceived as safe.
In a study published by PubMed titled “Safe to Walk”, it was proved the willingness of black women in urban areas to exercise depended on the setting in which they lived. Whether or not they felt safe proved to be a big obstacle.
These factors are among many that play a major role in the rising obesity rates among African Americans. One might assume that causes of obesity in America are the same despite ethnicity or socioeconomic status, but after a closer look, each subgroup has their own perspective.