Today we live in a society where technology is more advanced but our health has greatly declined. We have created ways to communicate across the world, yet we no longer take walks with our loved ones. Instead, we text them. We have created cars that go from zero to 60 miles in 60 seconds, yet families no longer run at parks. Home cooked meals and family time have replaced with frozen dinners and fast food.
With so many advances in technology we have created busier schedules and unhealthy lifestyle behaviors that have lead millions of American’s to a great epidemic.
That epidemic is obesity.
Obesity is defined as any individual with a BMI (Body Mass Index) of 30 percent or higher and according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), within the last 20 years there has been a dramatic increase in the rate of obesity within the United States ,especially amongs African Americans. Research shows that 57.6 % of African American women are obese and 47.8 % of the African-American population is obese.
To be fair, BMI may not be the ideal measurement for Black women due to our genetic makeup and our natural tendency to carry more body fat and muscle tissue than non-African Americans.
I am 5 feet 6 inches tall and the BMI scale has me at 24.9, which places me close to being in the ‘unhealthy’ range and by no means am I overweight or unhealthy.
However, we do know that people with higher BMIs possess more risk factors for diabetes, hypertension and other health related issues. Obesity is costly to treat and is linked to these illnesses as well as heart disease, joint problems and some forms of cancer.
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It’s time to decrease the rate of obesity within the African American community and you can help by incorporating the following tips into your daily lifesyle:
- Increase physical activity: Thirty minutes of light to moderate physical activity most days of the week will help improve your health. Go for a bike ride, dance, jog or swim. Just get moving and make it enjoyable.
- Proper nutrition: Avoid consuming high caloric foods with unhealthy amounts of sodium, trans fats and sugar. Increase your intake of fresh fruits, veggies and whole grains. You do not have to let go of everything you enjoy eating. The key is moderation not depravation.
- Make the commitment: Make the decision to commit to the “fit lifestyle”. It’s not a diet; it’s a lifestyle and it will require making small steps towards wiser nutrition and exercise choices. Making one healthy decision at a time will move you towards better health.
- Know your numbers: Schedule regular lab work to check your blood glucose levels, cholesterol and triglycerides levels, weight and blood pressure. Knowing your numbers will keep you informed to whether or not you are at risk for becoming obese or having health-related ailments such as diabetes or hypertension.
- Do your research: Find out more information about obesity and the affects of obesity. Proper knowledge could save you and your family from having future health problems associated with obesity.
- Embrace life: Life is a gift and so is your health. Take control of the things you can control (nutrition/exercise) in order to have a healthy and productive life.
Changing your lifestyle may seem overwhelming at first, but remember, change is a process and not an event. Therefore, create a strong support system, set short term goals and celebrate the big and small steps that you make towards healthier living.
Visit the BlackDoctor.org Diabetes center for more articles.
Laticia “ Action” Jackson MPH, B.S. Exercise Science, CPT is 2008 Fitness Olympian. Visit her website http://www.laticiajackson.com.