Social attitudes about weight have changed as more African American adults become overweight, diabetic, and get cancer or heart disease. In communities where most women are obese the attitudes towards weight and high fat foods are associated with high levels of obesity. In many black and low-income communities, attitudes, norms, behaviors, and cultural influences may be connected with high levels of obesity (Gunderson 1).
In lower income neighborhoods there may a mixture of positive and negative attitudes about being overweight. In most cases people who are thin are thought to be sick, addicted to drugs, or too poor to have enough to eat (Gunderson 1). Former First Lady Michelle Obama’s office started a program during Black History Month to end childhood obesity within a generation called “Let’s Move” and it was started to help American families and Black communities buy and eat healthier food.
Her solution to the problem had four goals:Offer parents the tools and information they need to make healthy food choices for their children, including the launch of a public information campaign; Improve the nutritional quality of food served in urban schools;Ensure that families have access to healthy, affordable food in their communities by eliminating food deserts; and Increase opportunities for children to be physically active, both in and out of school. The Partnership for a Healthier America is a organization that will help former First Lady Obama by getting support and money from six founding organizations: The California Endowment, Kaiser Permanente, Nemours, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the Alliance for a Healthier Generation. Ebony magazine wrote another solution that said “women may need counseling, a support group, behavior therapy, menu planning, and more information from the doctors or on the internet to help them reduce their calories and fat.
” (Sisters Speak Out. ..
., 1) African Americans should increase their physical activity; reduce body weight by changing lifestyle, regular exercise. Eating smaller portions and more balanced meals instead of fried foods. Grilled or baked foods that have less saturated fat are healthier.
Fortunately, there have been recent attempts to tackle the issue of lack of resources in the Philadelphia community specifically. Community members are beginning to open up supermarkets in areas like Southwest Philadelphia. The supermarkets are right in the heart of these food deserts. To many organizations and members of the community it has become clear that in many neighborhoods, in Philadelphia, it’s far too difficult to find fresh, healthy and affordable food.
In 2012, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported that it had identified more than 6,500 food deserts in rural and urban areas. Food deserts aren’t just a problem of convenience, the U.S. depart of Agriculture emphasizes that “the lack of access contributes to a poor diet and can lead to higher levels of obesity and other diet-related diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease,” (U.S.
Department of Agriculture, 1). In continuation, the Reinvestment Fund has invested over $73 million in grocery services in the city, and as a result there has been a report of a 56% drop in city residents without access to healthy food options from 20015 to 2013. Moreover, residents in North and West Philadelphia received the greatest benefits from acquiring supermarkets in their neighborhoods, with an annual sale of $2 million dollars in a variety of products (Cunniffe 1).There are many ways to promote healthy eating and combat obesity in these low income neighborhoods. It starts by gaining access to markets with affordable produce, providing information about healthy meals, and the ability to cook healthier meals at home. In addition, eating smaller portions and incorporating fruits, vegetables, low fat, low salt, and low sugar foods into one’s diet encourages weight loss. Exercising for at least 30 minutes a couple of times a week can make significant differences as well.
One can begin by joining a weight-loss program with a support system (family member, friend), and supporting Michelle Obama’s program. However, while awareness is an important factor, it is important to recognize the limitations. This is not simply a matter of individual decision and or “making responsible choices”. For many African-American women there is a struggle to find jobs and to find housing with adequate kitchen facilities. This has a huge impact on whether or not families cook and or have time to exercise (Grey 1).