How Fast Food Companies “Super Size” African Americans

January 31, 2011  |  

By Steven Barboza

Are buckets of chicken and wheel-sized burgers weapons of mass destruction in the black community?

Flavor Flav of Public Enemy fame has plans to open a chain of chicken joints, striving to “fight the power” of KFC by bringing the aroma of Flav-seasoned chicken to a corner near you.

If Flav’s Fried Chicken — or FFC — ends up serving good ‘n healthy meals, amen. But if it ends up being just another fast food joint, more African Americans may pack on extra pounds.

The war against obesity in black America hasn’t really gotten started yet. Every day, millions of black kids and adults walk into fast food restaurants, put a hurtin’ on some burgers, and walk out with “super-sized” bodies.

Some take this simple act of eating as a sign that black America is committing culinary suicide. The chosen weapons of mass destruction aren’t only burgers; they are deep buckets of chicken, sugary drinks, and even 2,500-plus calorie burgers the size of hubcaps.

“Food companies have a long history of marketing unhealthy products to minority communities, especially blacks and Hispanics,” said renowned nutritionist Marion Nestle. “Fast food chains are often the only restaurants in low income communities.” Alternatives for nutritious food, thus, are limited.

Nestle, the author of a book called “Food Politics,” noted that single parent families have a greater incidence of obesity than two-parent families, saying “this is associated with higher levels of poverty.”

In her book, she points out that companies seek to expand food sales by lobbying government agencies, forging alliances with health professionals, marketing to children, selling junk food as health food, and getting laws passed that “favor corporate health over human health.”

“Race-based obesity” is an ugly reality in America.  “It reflects national statistics,” she said.  Using “body mass index” (calculations correlating weight to height) as a gauge, four out of five African American women are considered either overweight or obese, national studies have found.

The prevalence of obesity among African Americans is 51% higher than for whites, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A national medical journal study found that the prevalence of obesity is 26% for black girls ages 6 to 19, compared to 15% for white girls in the same age group. Also, 37% of black men are obese, compared to 32% of white men, and 7% of black men were extremely obese, compared to 4% of white men.

“The overabundance of fast food and the lack of access to healthier foods have increased the African American community’s vulnerability to food-related death and disease as compared to whites,” said Andrea Freeman, author of the California Law Review article “Fast Food: Oppression through Nutrition.”

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  • bnitwes

    Archie Dux , African-Americans watch more television that European-Americans. Especially, African American children. This also applies to for Latino Americans. You should research the following: ethnic marketing, the prevalence of fast food restaurants in lower income and minority communities, pesticides in minority farming communities, food deserts and supermarket scarcity. please take the time to educate yourself so that you too may be a productive member of your community, instead of making woefully ignorant, snark-filled comments on the internet.

  • Sounds like a bunch of nonsense to me. How is it that blacks are seeing more fast food ads than whites? Are they watching TV channels invisible to white people?

  • geemoenettie

    Why do they continue to speak about me as if I am a brainless twit who has to be fed through a cage? WTF? No access to healthier food? It's called the farmer's market, the grocery store or my freaking back yard garden. I don't feed my kids at certain places.We teach them to check sodium content etc in the foods they purchase. Everyone has that choice. I'm sick of these "statistics" that depict us as mindless losers who have no common sense or decency to care for ourselves. SICK!!

  • seekthecreator

    All negativity aims at blacks, life is about chooses and we can make good or bad ones. Stop letting society tell us our issues, but rather take a look in the mirror. I’m so tier of reading black folks has health issue, money issue, etc. What is the darn solution, now that we know what the problem are? Give a break, so sick of it all!

  • Jay, Tam, Don, and others … if it was only that simple.

    Take a look at this and this

    There's billions of dollars marketing the above to Americans. Bottom line: advertising and marketing works.

  • Don

    I agree, nobody is forcing anyone to eat unhealthy. We all have a choice in what we put into our bodies. Whether these fast food places are targeting a specific group of people or not, we are the one who choose to eat the unhealthy food and we choose to get fat, have high blood pressure and a host of other ailments. Stop being so lazy and go to the super market and buy some healthy foods and cook it .
    ….and if you do choose toe eat the unhealthy foods, please don't then blame somebody else for you getting fat. It's all your fault.

  • Tam

    Oh please. Nobody is forcing this food down their threats. Get your behind out of the restaurant and take your lazy a## home and cook.

    • gee


      true.. me too… true.

  • GoodForHim

    It's indeed a sad reality, but we all have at lease SOME choice in what we eat. So some of it could be mitigated with better choice, but then that gets into the whole education thing, and that's a whole other can o' worms. Then I see THIS story about Flavor Flav opening a chicken restaurant:… Oh. Well.

  • I'm the author of Feed Your Head, a diet, health and lifestyle book and I'm located in Atlanta. If you need assistance in this area, let me know. I give presentations about living a healthier lifestyle. I'd like to help. Just go to my website for contact information:

  • JayR

    When are "we" (the Black Community) going to take responsibility for our own health and welfare? The same car that takes you to MCDonalds, can take you to a grocery store where you can acquire all the "Healthy food" you want, but lets face it, you or someone is going too have to take the ffort to prepare that food. Even MC Donalds has salads, (Wendy's, and Subway, as well) But no one can make the decision to buy or not buy but the individual. Damn, we gotta stop blaming everyone else for our own faults.