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Overweight and Obesity Among African Americans Report

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Updated: Mar 6th, 2022

A study conducted in 1997 reported that more or less 50% of the adult African-American populations are considered obese. Further probing revealed that the trend seemed to be increasing which would mean that more than 50% of today’s entire adult African-American population is obese. This does not include the younger members of the populations yet (Allison, et. al., 1997). More so, a separate study conducted has revealed that on the total African-American obese population, 80% of which are females and only 20% are from the male side (USDHHS, 2000).

“…In the Youth Survey, African American women were more likely than men to become obese. The findings revealed 66 percent of the African American women with a BMI of 24 to 25 when they were in their early twenties were obese by the ages of 35 to 37 years, whereas 47% of Hispanic and 42% of white women became obese…” (McTigue, 2002)

This result implies that more or less nine million of the total African-American women are obese and have greater risk to having obesity-related health conditions such as heart failure and diabetes among others (Teasley, 2000).

Similar study has proven that obesity is one of the factors affecting the rate of morbidity among African-American women. However, the reason for the continuously increasing obesity rate is still unknown (Allison, et. al., 1997).

Overweight and Obesity: Impacts

Problems on degenerative diseases has long been affecting the majority of the population around the world. There are several factors that contributed to these problems. These are: poor diet and nutrition; sedentary lifestyle; chronic stress; destructive habits; environmental pollution; internal pollution; and genetic expression. The first two reasons have been proven to be the highest factor affecting degenerative health.

With regards to poor diet and nutrition, government and university studies revealed that at least 95% of all Americans have at least one nutrient deficiency in their diet. Most US citizen are dependent on the convenience of gust getting and eating manufactured foods. It should be noted that such manufactured foods do not support good health (“Seven Key Factors that Determine Health or Illness”, 2004).

They do not eat nearly enough vegetables and fruits, and consume an extremely high amount of fat, animal products, and refined carbohydrates such as flour and sugar. These dietary habits cause the body to become both depleted of essential nutrients for proper function, and overloaded with unwanted toxic substances…” (“Seven Key Factors that Determine Health or Illness”, 2004).

Meanwhile, talking about lifestyle, the fact that human body is meant to be active most of the time still pushes through. But, statistics show that the average American watches about 6 hours of television per day, has a sedentary job, and does not find time to exercise on a regular basis. The entire nation is more overweight than at any time in its history. Even children are becoming increasingly obese and out of shape. Physical movement and exercise are necessary for the lymphatic system to operate. Cells live in a “sea” of lymph, a clear-to-white fluid through which nutrients are delivered to the cells and into which cells dump their metabolic waste. One of the functions of the lymphatic system is to be the body’s “sewer system”, drawing toxins from the cells and dumping them into the blood. The heart powers the blood system. Body movement powers the lymphatic system. Therefore, metabolic waste products cannot be completely cleared unless you are physically active. A second important reason for exercise is perspiration. The skin is a major outlet for waste products; when you perspire, you are disposing of waste products through the skin. A third benefit of an active lifestyle is to retain muscle mass. Muscle cells are where fat is burned. T he more muscle cells a person has and the stronger he/she is, the more fat he/she burns (“Seven Key Factors that Determine Health or Illness”, 2004).

Interventions Needed

Statistics show that the average African-American watches about 6 hours of television per day, has a sedentary job, and does not find time to exercise on a regular basis – this is exactly way of living. Thus, physical movement and exercises are necessary for the lymphatic system to operate. With regards to ‘poor diet and nutrition’, government and university studies revealed that at least 95% of the population today have at least one nutrient deficiency in their diet. Most people, rely heavily on convenience or manufactured foods, which do not support good health. They do not eat nearly enough vegetables and fruits, and consume an extremely high amount of fat, animal products, and refined carbohydrates such as flour and sugar. These dietary habits cause the body to become both depleted of essential nutrients for proper function, and overloaded with unwanted toxic substances.

May be what is lacking for many of the African-Americans is the general knowledge of what disadvantages can this bad behavior towards foods and lifestyle can bring to them. Thus if there will be person or persons who will have the initiative to gain enough knowledge and then share these to people, for sure, obesity and other bad nutrition-related circumstances of man, particularly the African- Americans, can be gradually improved. Results may not come really fast, but perseverance and persistence of sharing the right values and attitude on nutrition could give better results in due time. Thus the interventions needed to prevent overweight and/or obesity include diet, education and exercise.

For exercise

People who are obese need to have at least 30-45 minutes brisk walking every morning. This may also involve other people) such as the person’s friends, relatives or immediate families) so that this will be multi purposed. The person can have time for/with them while inculcating in their minds that exercise such as this will benefit their health. And for the third purpose, walking in the morning is good for the heart and lungs, hence this exercise can help manage other correlating illnesses like asthma and/or high blood pressure attacks.

After work in the afternoon, it is also good to make sure to have some extra time outside the house. Running or playing basketball or soccer will be an ideal game to have with friends and/or family members.. This can be another form of exercise and a bonding moment with them.

For diet

Obese or overweight people should lessen the intake of foods bought from the fast-food chains. It is best to have regular, properly and freshly cooked foods at least once a day. This can either be during breakfast, or lunch or even for dinner. At least once a day can serve as the starting point and eventually it should be made sure to have regular, properly and freshly cooked meals served every time on the dining table.

Fish, fresh vegetables, fruits, milk, fresh juice (and not soft drinks), meat and bread are just some of the foods that are needed to be stocked up in the pantry. This is to ensure that the person himself plus his family will be eating healthy foods from now on.

On education

A nutritionist / dietician can play a vital role in educating the minds of the obese or overweight people as well as those who may be at risk from being one. Information dissemination (through distribution of fliers, pamphlets and/or brochures and making use of the media to inform the public), educational forums and one-on-one discussions are the three best approaches to educate the people about the health concerns of obesity. The highlights of such activities should include information on:

  1. how do people become obese/overweight
  2. the diseases that are brought about by being overweight or obese
  3. how to prevent oneself from being obese/overweight

Education Plan

This educational plan will conduct a series of open forums with 15-20 obese adult African-Americans ages ranging from 50-60) per session. First, the educational plan facilitator (particularly the professional nurses) will conduct a randomized survey subjecting the targeted audience to answer a 2-page survey questionnaire. The questionnaire will consist of a combination of open and close-ended questions. The questionnaire will be of 4 parts:

  1. The demographical information
  2. Awareness on obesity and overweight
  3. Understanding the effects of being overweight and obese, and
  4. Plans for the future.

For the demographic information category, the participants will be asked about their age, social status, and average annual income of the family. The participants will have the option not to disclose their real name, however, there present age and the average annual family income should be revealed. Such information is important because the facilitators assume that the demographic information of each participant affects their level of understanding and perception towards obesity.

As for the awareness on obesity, the participants will be asked to tick/check (from the list of choices) how they knew about their obesity. As for the understanding of the effects, the participants will be asked to categorized the top 5 most behavioral, health, mental and social effects of obesity that they know about. Lastly, for the fourth category – the plans for the future – the participants will be asked to answer whether or not they have plans to improve their current health status in the future and why.

The Method of Educating and Planned Method of Analysis

The data that will be gathered in the survey will be analyzed and summarized through statistical procedures. Means, standard deviation, mode and percentile will be computed. All data will be presented in both tabular and graphical form for easy analysis.

From the results of the survey, the nurse facilitators will then know what is it that needs to be further explained. If the level of awareness of the targeted participants is low, then it can be assessed what specific information will still need to be explained and elaborated. Also, if only a limited number of participants have plans of lowering their weights, then the nurse facilitators will have to inculcate in the participants; minds why is it necessary for them to control their weights.

Time/Schedule

This educational plan will consume a minimum of eight weeks to finalize. The first 2 weeks will be attributed to in-depth literature review. From this literature review, the facilitators will be able to identify the needed information about obesity and how it will be presented to the targeted audiences. The next 2 weeks will be allotted to surveying. The nurse/facilitators will have to identify the participants who will be willing to spare 10-15 minutes of their time to answer the survey questionnaires.

The last four weeks will be spent for the data tabulation, analysis and educating the participants about obesity.

Significance of the Health Education Plan

This health educational plan is aimed at motivating African-American obese adults to stay away from being obese. After the series of educational and informational activities about obesity, it is targeted that the participants (the African-American obese adults) will be seen to have been improving their health and starting to lower their weights.

References

  1. Allison DB, Edlen-Nezin L, Clay-Williams G. 1997. Obesity among African American women: prevalence, consequences, causes, and developing research. Women’s Health 3(3-4):243-74
  2. Bousquet J, Knani J, Dhivert H, Richard A, Chicoye A, Ware JE Jr, face=+Italic; et alface=-Italic;. Quality of life in asthma: Internal consistency and validity of the SF-36 questionnaire. Am J Respir Crit Care Med 1994;149:371-5.
  3. Bousquet J, Ndiaye M, Ait-Khaled N, Annesi-Maesano I, Vignola AM. Management of chronic respiratory and allergic diseases in developing countries. Focus on sub-Saharan Africa. Allergy 2003;58:265-83.
  4. Germouty J. et al. Allergie et Immunologie. 1988; 22(suppl. 10): 33.
  5. Masoli M, Fabian D, Holt S, Beasley R; Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA) Program. The global burden of asthma: Executive summary of the GINA Dissemination Committee report. Allergy 2004;59:469-78.
  6. McTigue, K.M.. Garrett, J.M., Popkin, B.M.(2002). Are Young Overweight Adults Destined for Obesity? Clinician Reviews, 12(9), 29.
  7. “Seven Key Factors that Determine Health or Illness”. 2004. Connecticut Center for Health.
  8. Teasley, M. 2000. “Obesity, BI crucial to health of African American women” Michigan Chronicle. Michigan Chronicle Publishing Company, Inc
  9. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (USDHHS). 2000Healthy People 2010: Understanding and Improving Health. 2nd ed. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office
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