Obesity Problems This Holiday Season

It is November, and I get ready to find recipes to cook for Thanksgiving and Christmas. I try to make sure that I find the healthiest recipes for my family, because I am concerned about eating right and exercising so I do not become obese, and also when I start to have children, they do not become obese. Because, unfortunately, the link to children and obesity not only includes health problems, but early puberty development as well.
According to a new study conducted by professors at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, obesity rates in children are leading to early puberty, as young as 8 years for girls. They followed over 1,200 girls in three states, and those with a BMI in below the 50th percentile – girls who were 50% or less considered “obese” – started puberty around 10 years of age, but the girls that were in the 85th and 95th percentile, they started puberty at the age of 8. 
The rate is alarming for different races. While puberty in white and Asian girls who were obese started at about 9.7 years, and Hispanic girls developed at 9.3 years, for African-American girls, they experienced puberty at 8.8 years. This is an alarming statistic.
There is a growing obesity problem in our country, but it is growing at an unfortunately faster rate for African-Americans than any other race. According to the Centers for disease control, blacks have the highest percentage of people obese at 45%, compared to Hispanics at 39.1% and whites at 34.3%.
But, what could be causing these high rates among black people? If you are thinking about looking at poor areas and thinking they do not have access to fresh, healthy foods, you can forget that: the CDC stated that among black and Mexican men, those who have a higher income were more obese than those who did not make as much money. Women with higher incomes also were more obese than the lower-earning counterpart.
As an African-American, I am bothered by these statistics. I try to wrap my brain around why people of my race are much more likely to have higher obesity rates, which lead to a number of health problems. An earlier puberty age can lead to depression, early sexual activity, and low-self-esteem according to the research. 
Sure, lack of exercise and the food we eat are contributing factors in the obesity rates skyrocketing. But, there is a taboo among the African-American community that their hairstyles are more important that their health, as most black women who have went to get their hair done at a salon where they could spend at least $50 or more do not want to exercise as it would “mess up their hairstyle.”
Don’t believe me? Dr. Amy McMichael, senior researcher for a study on the link between working out and hairstyles, says that in her research, two out of 5 black women has stated they will not work out because they do not want to mess up their hair. 
"As an African-American woman, I have that problem, and my friends have that problem. So I wondered if my patients had that problem," said Dr. McMichael, who noted that hair care among black women is tedious and costly.
I can definitely see that. I used to go to salons every two weeks to a month to get my hair straightened. It would cost at least $80 each time, and I would avoid water and exercise at all costs. If it rained, I wouldn’t leave the house until it stopped. And forget about exercising. I didn’t want to break a sweat for fear that my money went to waste. But, when I decided to give up straightening my hair and become natural, it opened up lots of doors for me.
Now, I love to exercise. I sweat, but then I hop in the shower and rinse my hair and go about my way. I don’t worry about rain anymore. What’s better, now I am eating better and it reflects in the amount of muscle mass I have gained. My clothes are leaner, and I have more energy. Now, I wasn’t obese before, but I was getting there, going up two dress sizes over the course of 5 years. I knew something had to change. And it was my diet and exercise.
So, I think one of the best ways to tackle this issue among blacks is to correlate eating right and exercising into an incentive. Not only for the health benefits of living longer, but for lower insurance rates on their health insurance (there was $147 billion spent on insurance in 2008 alone), and also discounts at a grocery store. And to really push it in the community. I don’t think there is enough talking about it, and there should be a megaphone going around every neighborhood telling people that eating right means you live longer.
Then, this information can get pass on to the children and help them establish better eating habits. And end this cycle of obesity once and for all.

By Renayle Fink

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