Obesity in African American Women

Topics: Obesity, Body mass index, Nutrition Pages: 11 (3793 words) Published: June 30, 2005
Review of Literature


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 Emotionally, African American women tend to blame themselves for their obesity and will become withdrawn.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....

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