Childhood Obesity

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Childhood Obesity: African American Cooking
May 28, 2011

Obesity is a disease that has beset the lives of so many people around the world for decades. It is considered the most essential health concerns today. The focus of obesity has since shifted to concentrate on the obesity in children. Childhood obesity is on the rise at an alarming rate, especially in African American communities. The commonness of obesity in African Americans children is remarkably higher that white children (Brown, Southern, Suskind, Udall, Blecker, 2000). Schools, parents and the children themselves are all being held responsible for this heart wrenching disease. Food choices are high on the list of reasons for childhood obesity among African Americans. African Americans primarily live in the Southern United States. States like South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and Florida. These states are infamous for the southern style cooking. The purpose of this research paper is to show the direct connection between southern style cooking and childhood obesity. The southern foods that are traditional in African American kitchens and restrictions on time are causing the weight gain in African American children.

Culture and Traditions
Many African Americans are used to the traditional way of making meals. Cultures and traditions are learned and passed down from generation to generation. Dating back to the 1800’s when African Americans were slaves; their meals consisted only of the “scraps” left by their white slave masters. Foods like Pork chitterlings, chicken gizzards, tripe, pigs feet and left over pieces of chicken (Person, 2009). Because these were the foods they were forced to eat, they had to make them edible. With little resources most meats were boiled and mixed with vegetables they were able to grow. These are all traditions that are still practiced today. Meats like chicken and pork are normally fried, and vegetables like greens and cabbage are seasoned with large amounts of salt and lots of pork.

Relevance of Time
“63% of African Americans homes are headed by a single parent (Jarrett, 1994). The majority of these single parents work on a daily basis. With not enough time to shop and prepare meals, parents are left to order “take-out” of fast-food. Which are not good health choices for children. In addition, because mothers are working children are often time left alone to make their own food choices. “Choices primarily include candy, and snacks high in sugar” (Brown, Sothern, Suskind, Udall, Blecker, 2000).

The study used to complete research on how eating habits influence childhood obesity were mainly conducted online using the Ashford Online Library. Magazine articles, periodicals, and research papers were all used to find information to support the above hypothesis.

Secondary research was conducted using a journal entry written by Yvette Sealy. She conducted research by interviewing African American youth ages 6-18. Five questions were asked in the interviews 1) When you were growing up what were your favorite foods? 2) Was their anything special that your mother cooked? 3) In your opinion what types of food are children eating today? 4) How many meals a week do you prepare at home or order take out? 5) How do you decide to cook at home or get take out? (Sealy, 2010) These questions show the factors that influence the food choices and eating habits of African American children.

All the sources that were located online were verified to be reliable by following guidelines given in chapter 5 of Writing College Research Papers written by Kathy Sole. “If you can answer yes to all of these questions, you probably have a great source for your research paper: Is the source credible?, Is the source unbiased?, Is the source relevant?, Is the source complete?, Is the source logical?, Is the source recent?” (Sole, 2010)...
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