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Health

African American women and obesity: How do we lower the statistics?

Obese Woman
Posted by Tara White on Thursday, September 1, 2011

The winter holidays are warm and dear to me. This is the time when my family comes together to celebrate "the family". We are a close-knit family where aunts and uncles are more like mothers and fathers, and cousins are more like brothers and sisters. But as I am enjoying the family and thankful that we are all here to celebrate another year, I cannot help but look around the table where we are sitting and reminiscing about the days of our childhood and notice that the majority of the women are either overweight or obese. This includes the young and the old - from the early 20's to the early 70's.

According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, in 2009, African American women ages 20 years and older are 60% more likely to be overweight and obese than non-Hispanic white women.

As an African American woman, I often find myself battling with weight issues. It is not that we do not know how to live healthy, but more of a mind-set. My mother is a nurse, I work for the Division of Public Health and my grandmother, who was a nurse, died from complications due to diabetes, and she was overweight. My friends, cousins and I are always talking about "starting Monday".

I know there are many women who are comfortable with their weight, but I also know many who are not and attempt to lose the battle of the bulge every week, whether it from trying a low carb or low fat diet, eliminating sugars and working out more or just cutting back. Losing weight becomes an obsession.

We must remember that being healthy must be a way of life and not a way to lose weight for a special occasion. A healthy lifestyle needs to start from the time a child is introduced to solid foods. Healthy eating and physical activity must be a part of everyday life. Walking just 30 minutes a day can help you lose weight as well as maintain a healthy weight. All adults should set their long term goal to accumulate a minimum of 30 minutes, if not more, of moderate-intensity physical activity 3-5 days a week, and preferably every day.

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