You don’t have to give up all of your favorite foods or start training for a big race to improve your health. Over time, small changes to your eating, drinking, and physical activity habits may help you control your weight, feel better, and improve your health.
This fact sheet1 from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) will give you ideas on how to make better food and beverage choices and add physical activity to your life. When you make these changes, you may also become a health champion to help your family, friends, and others in your community do the same.
What’s the Problem with being Overweight? (We have larger bones and frames!)
Here are some facts from the Office of Minority Health about Obesity and African Americans2 :
- African-American women have the highest rates of being overweight or obese compared to other groups in the U.S. About four out of five African-American women are overweight or obese.
- In 2014, African Americans were 1.5 times as likely to be obese as Non- Hispanic Whites.
- In 2014, African American women were twice as likely to be obese than Non-Hispanic White women.
- In 2011-2014, African American girls were 50% more likely to be overweight than Non-Hispanic White girls.
The Highest Blood Pressure in the world belongs to Black Americans!
What is BMI?
The BMI is a tool that measures your weight in relation to your height. It can help you find out if your weight is in a healthy range (normal weight”). Here are the main BMI cutoff values for adults:
- 18.5 to 24.9: normal weight
- 25 to 29.9: overweight
- 30 or greater: obese
For a BMI chart, see the Weight-control Information Network (WIN) brochure Better Health and You5 .
More than three in four African American adults are overweight or obese!
More than three in four African American adults are overweight or obese.
The body mass index (BMI) is the tool used most often to find a person’s weight status. This tool may help you find out if your weight could raise your chances of developing health problems described previously in this post.
Another way to find out if you carry too much weight is to measure your waist. You may be more likely to have weight-related health problems if your waist is above a certain size. For women, the size is above 35 inches. For men, the size is above 40 inches.
Another Tool You Can Use: (Your Doctor)
Talking to doctors presents challenges to the black community that contributes to reduced usage of the healthcare system. The first hurdle is a psychological one; is the physician a friend or foe? Jay Harold has a post that goes into some detail about this sensitive subject. Click on this link to read this post.
Questions to Ask Your Doctor
- What is a healthy weight for me?
- What foods and beverages should I consume to improve my health?
- What kinds of physical activity may help me improve my health? How often and for how long should I do these activities?
Ask your doctor if you should be concerned about your weight. Your doctor may also do tests to see if you have high blood sugar or high cholesterol (a type of fat in your blood) and ask if you have a family history of certain diseases. Check out the “Questions to Ask Your Doctor” box for ideas about how to start talking with your doctor about weight and health.
You may lower your chances for health problems by losing weight. Losing 5 to 10 percent of your body weight may improve your health. If you weigh 200 pounds, that would mean losing 10 to 20 pounds.
Slow and steady weight loss of ½ to 2 pounds per week is the safest way to lose weight. To do so, you may need to take in 500 to 750 fewer calories per day. Cutting back on sugar-sweetened beverages like soda and sports drinks is a great way to reduce calories and improve your health.
Where do I start?
There are compelling reasons for Black Americans to lose weight and exercise more. Part 2 of Health Tips for Black Americans will answer the “Where do I start,” question in creating a healthier lifestyle for yourself and loved ones. Please take this advice of Muhammad Ali and give back to others. “Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.” ~ Muhammad Ali