All Articles Tagged "obesity"
I would be lying if I said that I’m 100 percent comfortable with my weight these days. While my size isn’t something that keeps me from putting on a bikini or has me ashamed, I know that I’m far from the weight that I was when I left college. The food that was available to me once I got out of school and was working late hours to make my dreams come true (I was picking up fast food to eat late at night) has helped me gain weight that I’m still trying to find a consistent gym schedule to get rid of. The pounds are in my thighs, around my stomach and in my arms (though it’s not that noticeable because I’m tall). I’ve been able to lose a good amount of weight only to turn around and put it back on with the stresses of life. Like many other women working on their weight, it’s a battle for me.
My boyfriend hasn’t necessarily made a big deal out of this. If anything, he just wants me to be healthy and will furrow his brows at me for bringing McDonald’s and Chinese food into his home–though he rarely has food in his fridge. But after surprising me by buying me a J. Crew dress that I couldn’t fit, we had to have a very uncomfortable conversation.
In the past, for surprise gift-giving moments, my boyfriend had asked me what size I was. That question was tough enough to answer because my tops, even my boobs, can fit in a medium or a large when it comes to shirts. But my bottom? I have to try on things to make sure they fit. I told him that I was a large, told him to never buy me pants or a skirt and hoped that that would be enough. However, when the J. Crew dress didn’t fit, imagine my sheer horror when he asked me how much I weighed.
I turned up my face and responded with, “WHY? Why do you care?” In turn, he responded with this:
“I was just wondering. I just thought that’s something we should be able to know about each other as people in a relationship.”
Don’t get me wrong, he didn’t push me about the issue once I said that such information wasn’t his business, but it got me thinking. A part of me knows that my own insecurities with my weight are the main reason why I wouldn’t be comfortable with sharing my actual digits with him, and that’s part of the reason why I need to get back in the gym and get my life together. But then another part of me wonders, why would that information matter to a significant other? If I was going through a What’s Eating Gilbert Grape? type of thing where my weight was affecting what I could do and those around me and was starting to make me look completely different, then yes, that information would be useful to share. But I also feel that if I tell him such information, it will become a mental block that will make him too worried about my size, what I’m doing about it and what goes into my mouth.
Just this morning I was watching “Divorce Court” and it was one of those “Before the Vows” episodes. The couple looking for Judge Lynn Toler’s advice on whether or not they were ready for marriage were plagued by two things: the fact that they didn’t have a lot of time to spend together because of his schedule, and the fact that he was always in her ear about her weight. The young man said that while he loves “thick women,” his fiancée was getting a little “too thick.” Such comments were putting a rift in their relationship. And while this man only seemed to have eyes for his lady, Judge Toler couldn’t ignore the fact that he put a damper on his statements of admiration for her with yet another comment about her size: “I love her…no matter how big she gets, I love her and I want to be with her.”
And remember when Boris Kodjoe had so much to say about excessive weight gain and it being a good excuse for your partner to step out on you? Talk about pressure…
So I wonder, can weight be a distraction in a relationship? Is your relationship negatively impacted once your man knows anything about your actual weight and size? I’m sure it all depends on the man, the state of the relationship and how you looked when the relationship started (I’ve been around the same weight since we met, but I’m larger than he thinks…). But if you ask me, some information isn’t necessary for your man to know.
For now, I’m going to continue trying to eat better and take advantage of my two gym memberships to get back to a size that I’M happy with, and he’s welcome to come along with me for that ride. But the numbers aren’t as important to share in my opinion, because I’m not trying to be defined by or only looked at as those three numbers. Either way, my weight is something I have to deal with and get down–not him.
According to a new Canadian study, published today, the idea that you can be obese or overweight and healthy isn’t necessarily true, because most people aren’t thinking about their health down the line.
The study, conducted by Dr. Ravi Retnakaran of the University of Toronto used more than 61, 000 people and followed the differences found between obese or overweight people and slimmer folks when it comes to their health and the risks they might face for heart attacks, strokes and death. Following up with those individuals after a decade, “those who were overweight or obese but didn’t have high blood pressure, heart disease or diabetes still had a 24 percent increased risk for heart attack, stroke and death over 10 years or more, compared with normal-weight people.”
Dr. Renakaran had this to say about his findings:
“These data suggest that increased body weight is not a benign condition, even in the absence of metabolic abnormalities, and argue against the concept of healthy obesity or benign obesity.
We found that metabolically healthy obese individuals are indeed at increased risk for death and cardiovascular events over the long term as compared with metabolically healthy normal-weight individuals.”
Of course, many people often say that just because they aren’t small in size doesn’t automatically make them unhealthy. There is some truth to that. According to David Katz, director of the Yale University Prevention Research Center, not all weight gain is harmful. And skinny people with metabolic health problems like high blood pressure or high cholesterol can be at even higher risk for the heart attacks, strokes and more than bigger folks. But still, both men claim it’s possible that “metabolically healthy” individuals actually just have risk factors at a lower level that can and will get worse as time passes if not controlled.
“It depends partly on genes, partly on the source of calories, partly on activity levels, partly on hormone levels. Weight gain in the lower extremities among younger women tends to be metabolically harmless; weight gain as fat in the liver can be harmful at very low levels.”
Katz went on to say that once you gain weight in your liver, that’s when you can really end up at high risk for heart attacks, strokes and death.
“In particular, fat in the liver interferes with its function and insulin sensitivity. This starts a domino effect. Insensitivity to insulin causes the pancreas to compensate by raising insulin output. Higher insulin levels affect other hormones in a cascade that causes inflammation. Fight-or-flight hormones are affected, raising blood pressure. Liver dysfunction also impairs blood cholesterol levels.”
All in all, the men say that they are all for people focusing on eating healthier and exercising rather than pushing to meet a certain weight. As Katz says, “Lifestyle practices conducive to weight control over the long term are generally conducive to better overall health as well. I favor a focus on finding health over a focus on losing weight.”
I personally don’t sit around stressing myself out over my BMI, but I know that I need to take better care of myself when it comes to what I eat in order to look out for myself (I write this as I eat Nutter Butters, but I’m heading to the gym tonight!). I might think I’m healthy now, but that doesn’t mean my own weight struggles won’t negatively impact me in the long term, but it’s all a process, right?
According to new research published in the American Journal of Health Promotion, education is the main factor in the fight against obesity. Just because you have money doesn’t mean you will take steps to keep your weight in check. However, if you are educated you will be more likely to eat healthier and exercise. “Researchers have been studying the relationship between body mass index and socioeconomic status for years, agreeing, for the most part, that women in areas with fewer economic resources have higher BMIs than women in more affluent communities,” reports The Huffington Post.
Researchers from Deakin University in Victoria, Australia gathered data from more than 4,000 women, ages 18 to 45, living in low-income neighborhoods and examined the role of education and income on BMI.
They looked specifically at subjects who are at what they call an “amplified disadvantage,” meaning they have a disadvantage in both education and income. “It has often been suggested that obesity happens because low-income people cannot afford high-quality food. Yet this study’s results suggest an alternative narrative: that it is education, and not income, that constrains people’s ability to eat healthfully,” said Frederick J. Zimmerman, Ph.D., the Fred W. and Pamela K. Wasserman Professor and Chair of the Department of Health Policy & Management in the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health.
On the other hand, a person’s education level was associated with greater access to health information and the capacity to understand and use health information, the study found.
Zimmerman also added that “because only low-income women were studied, it isn’t clear to what extent the results would apply to higher-income women, to men or to non-Australians.”
A 2010 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention looked not only at income and education but also at race. The CDC data shows there is no significant correlation between obesity and education among men. Women were a different story. The CDC report was more in line with the new research finding that women with college degrees are less likely to be obese compared with less educated women.
“Overall, 29.0% of women who live in households with income at or above 350% of the poverty level are obese and 42.0% of those with income below 130% of the poverty level are obese,” found the CDC. Among women 23.4 percent of those with a college degree are obese and 42.1 percent of women with less than a high school education are obese. Non-Hispanic white and Mexican-American women with college degrees are significantly less likely to be obese compared with those with less than a high school education.
“In fact, among non-Hispanic white, non-Hispanic black, and Mexican-American women, the prevalence of obesity among those with a college degree is significantly lower than among women with some college,” found the CDC.
Obesity affects 38.1 percent of men and 54.2 percent of women in the African-American population, which leads to towering medical bills related to blood pressure and diabetes. Black Americans are beginning to worry about affording health care as medical bills are continuing to flood their mailboxes, reports ThinkProgress.org
One-fourth of the respondents said that paying for vital prescriptions to stabilize their health was a struggle, according to a survey by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the Harvard School of Public Health. While the rest of the country is battling cancer, the survey discovered that African Americans’ main health concerns lie in high blood pressure, stroke, and diabetes.
These chronic illnesses are a result of the inaccessibility of healthy food, which tends to be more expensive. Fast food companies have come under fire for the frequency with which they market their cheap products to minorities and low-income customers.
Because African-Americans are disproportionately affected by the unavailable health care, compared to whites, their treatable illnesses become elevated, or worse, fatal.
Ashley Liggins, 30, replied to NPR’s Facebook and noted that being without health insurance forced her to choose between buying medication for high blood pressure, gas for her car, or groceries for the week.
However, most of the people in the survey did have health care plans, but still find the cost of prescriptions and doctor visits to be daunting. The average family of four—with employer-paid health insurance—annually spends more on medical bills than their groceries.
“We found general economic insecurity among families who generally were doing well—and this fear of paying a larger medical bill was just one of the top problems [African Americans] had,” explained Robert Blendon, professor of health policy at the Harvard School of Public Health.
Although there is a common belief that the earlier you give birth, the easier it is for your body to “bounce back,” a recent study suggests that this may not be true, The Huffington Post reports.
The study actually suggests that teen pregnancy may raise risks of obesity.
“We know that teen pregnancy is tied to certain immediate risks, such as babies having low birth weight and mothers struggling to complete high school — and now we know that it is also associated with poor long-term health outcomes,” said Dr. Tammy Chang, a researcher who worked on the study.
“When taking care of teen moms, we often have so many immediate concerns — child care, housing, school, social and financial support — that we don’t often think of the long term health effects of teen pregnancy,” Chang continued.
The study was conducted on 5,520 women between the ages of 20 and 59. It compares those who gave birth in their teens to those who had not. Researchers analyzed the data and placed each woman into a group of either being a normal weight (with a body mass index between 18.5 and 24.9), overweight (with a BMI between 25 and 29.9) or obese (with a BMI higher over 30).
The survey revealed that 44.2% of the women who gave birth in their teens were obese, while 35.2% of the women who gave birth after 19 were obese.
The study did not find a huge difference between the groups of women who fell into the overweight category, but it did find that fewer women who gave birth in their teens fell into the normal weight category. Only 26.1% of participants who had children in their teenage years were found to be in the normal weight group.
Researchers went on to note that there is an association between teen pregnancy and obesity, but that does’t necessarily mean that teen pregnancy causes obesity.
When you consider how long Tyrese Gibson has been in the entertainment industry, one would think that by now he’d know how to offer “politically correct” answers in place of responses that might be perceived as offensive. Or possibly he has learned and simply doesn’t care. During a recent interview with All Hip Hop, the 34-year-old singer-turned-actor-turned-author was asked asked if he felt responsible as an entertainer to “inspire people to live healthier lifestyles.” While the question seemed pretty general, the “Stay” singer offered a pretty harsh response.
“No two situations are the same. If you are fat and n*sty and you don’t like the way you look, do something about it. It’s simple,” he responded.
“When you take a shower and you put your fat, n*sty body in the shower and by the time you get out, the mirrors are all steamed up so you don’t look at what you did to yourself. That may sound offensive or insensitive but ultimately, you are big as hell because you have earned that sh**. You worked your a** off to eat everything in sight to get big as hell,” Gibson continued.
“If you got a problem with the way you look, then you need to do something about it. Excuses sound best to the people that’s making them up,” he finished.
While there may be some truth to Gibson’s statement, as the motivation for any lifestyle change generally begins within, his delivery was all wrong and comes off a bit insensitive. As you may have guessed, his comments didn’t sit too well with some fans and his Twitter mentions have been filled with people criticizing him for his comments. In turn, the singer took to his Twitter page to offer an apology for his style of delivery and rebuke media outlets for “twisting” his words.
What is your opinion on his comments? Is he simply offering tough love or was he totally out of line?
From your mother to your girlfriends, and even yourself, we all have our views on how to lose weight. But, has anyone actually stopped to see if these general views are true? Well, a recent article in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) exposed some of the common views and tested their truth. Researchers completed an internet search for popular weight loss tips and then searched research papers for evidence on how effective — or ineffective — the advice was. Here’s a breakdown of what they found.
- Engaging in sex can cause you to lose a good amount of calories. Wrong! A study that looked into this found that an average man would only lose a total of 21 calories during a 6 minute sex session (FYI, it takes a deficit of 3,500 calories to lose one pound). Although the amount of energy used during sex is a lot, the average amount of time people use to have sex is not. As a result, the total amount of calories used is very small. Maybe the next time you are in the mood, you can consider an hour-long continuous session?
- Those who win the weight loss “race” are those who stay slow and steady and not those who are fast. According to the NEJM article, there is NO truth in that. The research fact is this: those who stick to a “starvation diet” (AKA a very low calorie diet) will lose a lot more weight in the beginning compared to those who don’t. However, when the study visited both groups in one year, they saw no difference in the total amount of weight loss. Basically, it doesn’t matter if you do it rapidly or slowly.
- Skipping breakfast or eating a snack can hurt your weight loss. I’m sure a lot of you have heard these myths. Skipping breakfast or eating a snack will not stop your weight loss. The more important thing is what you are eating, not when you do eat.
- Setting realistic goals and motivation are key to success. Nope. Apparently these factors are not important when you are losing weight according to this article. I don’t know about this one because I personally think that if you start a diet/exercise program, there has to be some form of motivation tied to it. But I have also seen people lose weight even when their goals were or were not realistic.
- Those who were breastfed tend to be skinny. I think this seems more obvious. Although breastfeeding has multiple benefits for a baby, being forever skinny is not one of them.
- Obesity can be in your genes, but it will only come to fruition in the right environment. Pretty much you are what you eat! If you choose foods high in calories and fat, you are likely to be fat, especially if it is in your genes. If you eat a well-balanced diet and stick to portion control, you can be skinny even if obesity is in your genes.
- Dieting is not the long term solution. Dieting can help you lose the weight. However, if you go back to the same way of eating afterward, the weight will always come back.
- Exercise is the long term solution. One of the true keys to weight loss is tying exercise to your daily life for the rest of your life.
- There is more to exercise than losing weight. Exercise alone has been tied to a huge improvement in high blood pressure and diabetes in some people. It is the best known secret for curing, if not preventing, many diseases, including some cancers.
- For overweight kids, weight loss programs should involve everyone in the home. How are the kids going to lose weight if you don’t?
The bottom line is that in order to lose weight, there have to be multiple approaches which include: lower food intake (stick with only eating a certain amount of calories per day), exercising, and reducing the amount of sweets/fat. Lastly, it is not just about dieting; it should be a lifestyle change.
We’re sure this new study is gong to raise a few eyebrows. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is funding a study to find out why a majority of homosexual women are overweight, reports The Washington Times. The group is spending $1.5 million in order to determine why nearly three-quarters of adult gay women are overweight or obese, compared to half of straight women.
The study will examine biological and social factors and will be conducted by Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. The two grants were administered by NIH’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) to study the relationship between sexual orientation and obesity.
While this study has been planned according to the NICHD, its future is uncertain because of the sequester.
“The NIH is currently assessing the impact on funding due to sequestration,” said Robert Bock, press officer for the NICHD. “It is not possible to say how this (or any other NIH grant) will be affected in the long term beyond the 90 percent funding levels already in place.”
But according to Bock, the issue is an important one. “Obesity is a serious public health problem affecting a large proportion of the U.S. population,” Bock said. “The study is examining reasons why the risk of obesity varies according to sexual orientation, in order to inform the development of future strategies to prevent obesity.”
The outcome of the study may shed light on obesity trends in general—even in the minority community. “Our study has high potential for public health impact not only for sexual minorities, Bock continued, but also for straight men and gay women “as we seek to uncover how processes of gender socialization may exacerbate obesity risk.”
Are You Buying This? Critics of NYC’s Large Soda Ban, Including NAACP, Say It Hurts Minority Businesses
Opponents and supporters of New York City’s ban on oversized sugary drinks made a court appearance yesterday, with critics seeking to put the measure on hold while this lawsuit is resolved. It’s scheduled to go into effect on March 12. At issue, reports the Associated Press, are biases that will disproportionately impact small and minority-owned businesses.
Mayor Bloomberg and his administration say this is an effort to combat the high obesity rate — 24 percent of adults in the city — and trim the $4.7 billion price tag for treating obesity-related illnesses.
The NAACP and the Hispanic Federation have joined the American Beverage Association and a number of other groups who argue that the rule oversteps into consumer choice and isn’t fair to businesses that will be prohibited from selling the jumbo beverages while convenience stores and other large businesses, which aren’t subject to city health rules, can sell the items. Businesses caught violating the 16-ounce rule will face a $200 fine, starting in June.
“The NAACP and the Hispanic Federation, an organization of 100 Northeastern groups, say their concern is that minority-owned delis and corner stores will end up at a disadvantage compared with grocery chains,” wrote the AP.
But some are calling out these organizations because of their ties to the big beverage companies. Among the ties cited: Coke is giving $100,000 to the NAACP for healthy lifestyle initiatives and former Hispanic Federation President Lillian Rodriguez Lopez now works for Coca-Cola. Gawker (h/t New York‘s Daily Intelligencer blog) also points out that the Hispanic Federation’s annual gala will honor Coca-Cola with the Corporate Leadership Award.
“Given that obesity rates are higher than average among blacks and Hispanics, the NAACP should refuse soda makers’ money and ‘reevaluate the position the group is taking in New York City,’ Michael F. Jacobson, the executive director of the nutrition advocacy group Center for Science in the Public Interest,” the AP adds.
“In its brief, the N.A.A.C.P. conceded that obesity was a significant problem among blacks and Hispanics. But the group urged the city to create a more holistic program to attack the problem, including an increase in financing for physical education programs in public schools,” The New York Times reports.
Are you buying this racial argument from the NAACP and the Hispanic Federation? The ban is a little heavy-handed, but honestly, if you want to drink that much soda, you can purchase that much soda. You just can’t do it in one container. So instead of buying a 20-ounce soda at the corner store, you buy two cans. Is that so outrageous?
The health issues associated with obesity have to be tackled, and we have to start somewhere. Why not start here? And if it doesn’t work, you do away with it. The NAACP is right; there should be increased physical education in public schools. But diet is a huge issue as well. Public policy is stepping in to try and change unhealthy behavior.
Today and again in two weeks all eyes will be on Beyonce Knowles as she performs at the inauguration and Super Bowl. As someone who has music from every solo album Beyonce has ever recorded, I can say that I have been a long time fan. So I never thought I would be giving people — especially children and communities of color — this piece of advice: do not listen to Beyonce.
You would have to be living in a bubble to have missed the news that Beyonce cut a reported $50 million, multi-year deal with PepsiCo. Although the deal may meet Beyonce’s and Pepsi’s mutually-beneficial marketing needs, it does not serve the best interests of the U.S. public, which is in the midst of working to combat an obesity epidemic.
While the marketing tactics of soda companies are not new — after all, Beyonce, Sofia Vergara and so many other superstars past and present have been used by soda companies to encourage people to consume unhealthy beverages for decades — what is new is that this deal comes during a time of increased public concern about the role that sugar-sweetened beverages play in contributing to weight gain.
Read the rest at BlackVoices