Thursday, November 12, 2009

Obesity: Worse Than You Thought

WASHINGTON, DC – Blacks are digging a grave with their mouths, killing themselves, slowly, and quietly, little by little, every day. They are more overweight and obese than any other racial group and at risk for developing heart disease, diabetes, stroke, hypertension, and certain types of cancers.

New research by the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) reported November 5, that each year approximately 100,500 cancers occurring in the US can be attributed to excess body fat.

The figure underscores the central role that overweight and obesity are now understood to play both in the development of cancer and in cancer survivorship, said researchers.

"We now know that carrying excess body fat plays a central role in many of the most common cancers," said Laurence Kolonel, MD, PhD, Deputy Director of the Cancer Research Center of Hawaii at a press conference. "And it's clearer than ever that obesity's impact is felt before, during and after cancer - it increases risk, makes treatment more difficult and shortens survival”.

Khalilah Ali is a nurse practitioner that travels the streets of Dallas providing home health care to throw away patients that others won’t treat. They are below low income in her words and are 95 percent Black and 65 percent obese.

“When you’re on their territory you get a full picture of their health status. They feel comfortable telling you everything because you’re not just treating an illness you’re treating a person. Poverty and oppression has impacted their lives. Many still eat a slave diet like they are still on the plantation,” she told The Final Call.

“I visit patients weighing 350 pounds sitting on their porch eating a ham sandwich on white bread with mayonnaise and drinking red Kool Aid. I’m the first person to tell them to stop eating pork. We have less cancer than others but we die from it more than others.”

From Dallas get on 20 East and two states later is Mississippi home to the city of Jackson, home to the U.S.'s largest population of Blacks. The magnolia state annually weighs in as America's fattest state.

The prevalence of obesity among Blacks in Mississippi is even greater than the national average for Blacks, especially among Black women. And more alarming, increasing numbers of Black children in the state are being diagnosed with obesity-related illnesses that in the past had been only found in adults.

"I used to be scared to step out there on the issue of Obesity but I realized that I wasn't being fair because I have a public platform and I need to use it for good," said Star Jones, host of the BET News special HEART OF THE CITY: DYING TO EAT IN JACKSON.

"I am not the 'poster child' for a specific weight loss method but I am a true advocate for adopting a healthy lifestyle because with all humility, doing so has saved my life."

HEART OF THE CITY: DYING TO EAT IN JACKSON revealed a perfect storm of socio-economic, cultural, environmental elements and individual lifestyle choices that have caused so many of Jackson's citizens to become obese. Almost one of every three Mississippians has a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or greater -- the dividing line between being overweight and being obese.

Read more in The Final Call Newspaper

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