Weight Overload - Black Enterprise

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Black Enterprise Magazine September/October 2018 Issue

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On the second day of the Republican National Convention, public officials tackled the problem of obesity, a disease that has serious consequences for African Americans.

“We don”t have a healthcare crisis,” said former Gov. Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, who lost more than 100 pounds and reversed his type II diabetes. “We have a health crisis. We don”t prevent disease. We treat disease only after it has gotten out of hand and become catastrophic.”

This is the first time that both Democratic and Republican national party platforms have recognized obesity, notes Gary Foster, president of the Obesity Society, as he wrapped up a forum yesterday morning that featured Huckabee, Tommy G. Thompson, the former Secretary for the Department of Health and Human Services, and New Hampshire State Senator Bob Clegg.

Back in 2005, in an effort to tackle the rising obesity epidemic among African Americans, Health and Human Service Secretary Mike Leavitt announced the award of $1.2 million to improve efforts to reduce obesity among African Americans.

“The obesity epidemic is one of the major health challenges facing our nation, and African American communities are highly affected by this disease and its health consequences,” Secretary Leavitt said in April 2005. “The initiative we are announcing today will mobilize three of the nation’s premier academic and civic organizations to join us in a new partnership to mount critical prevention efforts in the African American community.”

In 2005, African Americans were 1.4 times as likely to be obese as Non-Hispanic whites, and in 2003-2004, African American children between ages 6 -17 were 1.3 times as likely to be overweight than Non-Hispanic whites, reports the HHS”s Office of Minority Health.

“Obesity is not just a matter of will power,” said Dr. Caroline Apovian, an obesity society board member. “Obesity is a complex disease involving a mix of genes, environment and behavior.”

Results from a 2003-2004 CDC study indicate that an estimated 66% of U.S. adults are either overweight or obese. Obesity is based on the body mass index, and varies by height and weight. In addition to being linked to Type II diabetes, obesity is linked to high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke, and cancer, according to WebMD. Despite the statistics, Dr. Ada Fisher (who did not attend the forum) seems to disagree. “I don”t think you will find that those [conditions] are unique to the African American community,” says Fisher, the first African American woman and one of only three blacks this year elected to set the agenda for the Republican Party. “You will find them in Hispanics, Native American, and white populations as well.”

Finkelstein”s data also showed that there is a tremendous gap between African American woman and white and Hispanic women as income level decreases. Approximately 53% of non-Hispanic black women and 51% of Mexican-American women aged 40-59 were obese compared to about 39% of non-Hispanic white women of the same age, reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Among women 60 and older, 61% of non-Hispanic black women were obese compared to 37% of

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Marcia Wade Talbert

Marcia is a multimedia content producer focusing on technology at Black Enterprise Magazine. In this capacity she writes and assigns stories to educate readers about social media; digital integration; gadgets, apps, and software for business and professional development; minority tech startups; and careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). In 2012, she received two Salute to Excellence Awards from the National Association of Black Journalists and was recognized by Blacks in Technology (BiT) as one of the Top 10 Black achievers in the tech arena for 2011 at SXSW in Austin, Texas. She has spoken about technology on panels for New York Social Media Week, at The 2012 Rainbow/PUSH Wall Street Summit, as well as at Black Enterprise’s Entrepreneurs Conference and Women of Power Summit. In 2011, SocialWayne.com chose her as one of 28 People of Color Impacting the Social Web, and through crowdsourcing she was listed as one of BlackWeb2.0's/HP's 50 Most Notable African American Tastemakers in Social Media and Technology for 2010. Since taking on the role of Tech editor in September 2010, she has conceived and produced five cover stories on Technology and/or STEM and countless articles, videos, and slideshows online. Before joining BlackEnterprise.com as an interactive general assignment reporter in 2008, she freelanced with Black Enterprise beginning in 2003 while working as the technical editor at Prepared Foods magazine. There she further honed her writing skills and became an authority on food ingredients, including ingredients used in food fortification and enrichment. Meanwhile, her freelancing with Black Enterprise and BlackEnterprise.com helped her stay current on issues pertaining to the financial and business welfare of African Americans. As a general reporter for Black Enterprise she attended and reported on the Democratic and Republican National Conventions, where she interviewed Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor and assistant to President Barack Obama and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. Marcia has a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture with an emphasis in food science from the University of Minnesota, and a Master of Science degree in journalism from Roosevelt University in Chicago. En route to her secondary degree, she served as the editor-in-chief of the Roosevelt University Torch, a weekly, student-run newspaper. An avid photographer and videographer, Marcia is one of several employees at BLACK ENTERPRISE who interned for the publishing company as a college student. She lives in New Jersey with her husband, a food scientist; her seventeen-month-old daughter; and “The Cat”, but still considers Chicago home.

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