Health and Wellness

How Black Men Are Getting Fatter and What We Can Do About It



There’s no denying that there is an epidemic of obesity in America. And, when it comes to black Americans, the statistics are even worse. Why are we getting fatter? And, what are some steps we can take to combat this trend?

What Do the Statistics Say?

A 2013 report from the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 38 percent of black men in America are obese or overweight according to their BMI number. These numbers are much higher than other races. And, with that extra weight, you are leaving yourself susceptible to high blood pressure and Type II Diabetes. Both of these diseases are much more common in the black community. And, the health risks only increase as we get older.

With the down-home soul cooking and the acceptance of being “big-boned,” overweight living has become part of our culture. However, if we want to avoid the growing risk of arthritis, stroke, cancer, and heart disease, we need to make some changes. Fortunately, science is starting to address our health and fitness problems, and there may be some solutions in the near future.

Head on Down to the Barbershop

The ‘American Journal of Public Health’ just published an article about how black men enrolled in a program at their barbershop were two times as likely to get screened for colorectal cancer. Black men have a disproportionately high mortality rate for colorectal cancer. So, investigators from the Department of Population Health at New York University’s Langone’s Center for Healthful Behavior Change went to 111 barbershops throughout the five boroughs.

The researchers pointed out that black men are much less likely to be insured and only 60 percent of the study’s participants had a personal physician. This made going out into the community crucial for reaching those who are at risk. Of course, this was just one study, but it did produce some important findings that may seem obvious to a bunch of us: if you want to reach black men, head down to where they hang out.

Another study from the National Institutes of Health looked at how to encourage healthy behaviors in middle aged and older black men in South Carolina. It basically said to reach black men where they are. This could include marketing messages in mass media, word of mouth, and partnering with businesses, fraternities, and churches. The key is for there to be culturally-appropriate framing. Physical activity is a must, and there’s no reason you can’t grab a few of your friends and put in a good workout.

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