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Obesity in African American Women

Despite the well-publicized health and emotional consequences of obesity, a successful weight-loss industry, and a high rate of voluntary dieting, the prevalence of obesity in African American women continued to increase. For the most part, African American women are aware of the serious health risks related to obesity. Honest attempts to diet and exercise properly usually resulted in gaining of the weight loss and additional pounds in the process.

A limited number of studies suggest that African American women maybe less motivated to control their weight because of culturally determined, permissive attitudes toward obesity (Kumanyika & Guilford-Davis, 1993). In fact a select few of obese African American women may feel more attractive about their bodies than women of other races may. The African American culture appears to be more accepting of obesity than other cultures in society. On the other hand, African American women experience great social pressure in respect to body size and receive painful accounts of ridicule (Averett & Sanders, 1996).

Obese African American women have also been linked to the lower socioeconomic status in regards having the means to purchase nutritional foods for a proper diet. The stigma attached to obesity causes African American women to feel shame and guilt of self-blame (Crocker, Cornwell, & Major, 1993). Emotionally, African American women tend to blame themselves for their obesity and will become withdrawn. Therefore, African American women may begin to experience insecurities and low self-esteem. There are several serious health risks that are associated with obesity.

Obese African American women experience a high rate of diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, and an array of other long-term critical health problems. Over years of time obesity can be fatal. Gradual weight loss can help to reverse risk factors and add years to live a healthier life. Social Context Obesity is more prevalent among African American women in the lower socioeconomic status. Characteristics of being subject to lower economic status included poorer education, income levels, less likely to have private insurance with no real source of regular medical care (Rajaram, 1998).

Therefore low-income African American women are less educated on proper diet and exercise. The U. S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Guide Pyramid was created as a guide to follow everyday for proper food servings and choices. The fundamental principles of the food guide were moderation, variety, and balance. A diet was balanced if it contained appropriate amount of each nutrient, and chose foods from each of the food groups helped ensure that balance. African they can purchase. The U. S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Guide Pyramid is based on a recommended number of servings from six food groups.

Food groups were the bread, cereal, rice, and pasta group (6-11 servings), vegetable group (3-5 servings), fruit group (2-4 servings), milk, yogurt, and cheese group (2-3 servings), meat, poultry, fish, dry beans, eggs, and nuts group (2-3 servings), and fats, oils, and sweets (use sparingly) (2001). Inexpensive fat-filled, low-nutrient-density foods predominate in African American communities (Rajaram 1998). Proper education would have informed the proper foods, servings, and amount of servings to ensure proper eating habits that abstractly monitors weight control.

According to statistics, 27. 4% of African American women who had less than high school education was obese as opposed to only 15. 7% of African American women with college or above was obese (U. S. Surgeon General, 2001). In combination with proper diet there must be physical activity. The U. S. Surgeon General stated that regular physical activity was very important maintaining weight loss, but was extremely helpful for the prevention of obesity (2001). African American women tend to be less active physically.

The amount of physical activity will be determined by the amount of food intake. The U. S. Surgeon General informs that adding moderate amount of physical activity five or more times a week uses 150 calories of energy on each day of activity, which can be equivalent to approximately five pounds in six months or ten pounds in one year (2001). Samples of physical activities included but are not limited to common chores around the house or in the garden and sporting activities such as walking, dancing, and bicycling.

An example of balanced food intake and physical activity included one small cookie (50 calories) was equivalent to walking briskly for ten minutes (U. S. Surgeon General, 2001). The all too common fast food “meal” containing a double patty cheeseburger, extra-large fries and a twenty-four ounce soft drink is equal to running two and half-hours at ten-minute mile pace (1500 calories) (2001). Again proper education would inform African American women what to eat, how much, how often and the amount of physical activity to help prevent obesity and maintain weight control.

Along with proper nutrition habits and moderate exercise it is essential that obese African American women obtain regular medical care. A disproportionate number of African American women live in or near poverty which puts them at higher risk of obesity (Rajaram, 1998). African American women that live in or near poverty should have top priority to the means of getting adequate medical care on a regular basis. Regular medical care from a professional was an opportunity for African American women to have basic fitness assessments and testing.

Benefits of a fitness assessment: helps establish the client’s current health status and provide you with baseline information, provides extremely useful information for comparison later as the client progresses and improves, and serves as a powerful and educational motivating tool, thus increasing the likelihood of adherence. Components of a fitness assessment would include a medical history form, analyzation of risk factors, informed consent form, and suggestions to some form of an actual fitness activity test.

This is very useful information as to the existing health status and appropriate procedures to gradually improve present health status. This type of medical care must be made available to obese African American women of the lower socioeconomic level especially since that is a effect obesity. Obese African American women were discriminated by society in the workplace. Being obese in society is seen as a form of laziness, self-disrespect, and poor self-control.

Rothblum, Miller, and Garbutt (1988) found that overweight job applicants were evaluated more negatively than average weight applicants on issues such as their supervisory potential, self-discipline, and personal hygiene (Morrison & O’Connor, 1999). Qualifications for employment should never be based on an individual’s weight. For example, Larkin and Pines (1979) briefly displayed and overweight or a normal weight job candidate, followed by an identical videotape depicting hands filling out a job application.

Furthermore, viewers who associated the application with the overweight person were less likely to perceive the candidate as having desirable qualities that warranted employment. This could a double edge sword facing obese African American women. In an attempt to sum it all up society places barriers on obese African American women from the lower socioeconomic status and they continue to strive for adequate education, better income, and regular medical care. Regular medical care is of the most importance that way obesity can be prevented.

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