Poor, Minorities More Likely to be Obese. But Why?

Louise Knott Ahern, Lansing State Journal, October 29, 2011

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More than 65 percent of Michigan residents are either overweight or obese–making the mitten state the 10th fattest in the nation, according to statistics by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

But just like the nation in general, Michigan’s obesity statistics reveal large gaps among certain groups of people.

Consider:

• Nearly 80 percent of black women and 75 percent of Hispanic women are overweight or obese compared to 60 percent of white women.

• While roughly 35 percent of white Americans report being physically inactive, more than 50 percent of blacks and Hispanics report a sedentary lifestyle.

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Researchers are studying myriad factors–from the impact of living in crime-ridden neighborhoods to the cost of food.

They’re careful how they talk about it. They refer to an “interaction” among poverty, race and obesity. While they know the three are linked, there is no research yet that can pinpoint a definitive cause and effect.

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Nearly 15 years ago, HUD offices in several American cities–none in Michigan–gave thousands of poor women the chance to move from public housing projects to more affluent neighborhoods.

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Experts say poor people and a disproportionate number of minorities live in areas lacking adequate grocery options, so-called food deserts.

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The health department has been hosting the meetings–called social justice workshops–around Ingham County for the past couple of years.

Over the course of a four-day workshop, participants discuss how social determinants, oppression and privilege influence health and people’s choices. Later they look at data on health disparities and talk about how different life experiences could lead to different health status.

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  • Alexandra

    This is a no-brainer. If you’re lying about the house, watching the idiot box, collecting welfare, and scarfing the fast food, of COURSE you’re going to be fat!

    Not to mention that the cheap food is some of the worst stuff you can eat. We’re working class and I’ve found that grassfed beef doesn’t cost a whole lot more than what you find at the local chain grocery store. I try to buy locally, like from farmer’s markets. It’s much cheaper to prepare your own meals (though it takes a little bit of effort).

    Then again, your typical welfare mooch is all about instant gratification.

  • Anonymous

    I’ve listened to a great many wise Black community organizers, and I know for a fact that Blacks are overweight because of Whites. Whites keep Black’s down, causing them to drop out of school and become unemployed, which keeps them in poverty, which prevents them from having enough food. It is starvation brought on by White racism that has caused them to be fat.

    Did you know that over half of all Blacks go to bed each night hungry? Don’t you feel bad for what you’ve done.

  • Byron

    I think I read years ago that poor black kids were fat because the neighborhoods they lived in were “too dangerous” to go outside and play in. I thought that meant they could stay indoors and have even more time to study and do their homework, but the urban test scores haven’t suggested that this has taken place yet.

  • Justin

    While there is no one definitive answer to the question of why obesity tends to be more rampant or widespread among Blacks and Latinos, it’s almost impossible to deny the fact that there are considerably far more fas-food restaurants in low-income neighborhoods that have all-minority residents than in affluent suburbs. Further compounding and exacerbating the problem is the fact that most of these places have “specials” in which a burger or a couple of pieces of fried chicken (to give just two examples) whichh would normally cost $4.00 or $5.00 are reduced to just $1.00 one or two days per week. The ownership and management of these restaurants view these promotions as a way to boost sales and bring in more customers especially via word of mouth. It’s also important to realize that junk food (or unhealthy food)is often considerably cheaper and/or purposely priced lower at both major supermarkets and other stores…thus giving the customer a greater incentive to buy it.

  • Zapp Branigan

    80% of blacks and hispanics are overweight and poor?

    America has the fattest poor people ON EARTH.

  • NBJ

    Over the course of a four-day workshop, participants discuss how social determinants, oppression and privilege influence health and people’s choices.

    Translation: It’s all Whitey’s fault people of color are fat. It has nothing to do with poor habits what-so-ever, and it’s totally not their fault no grocery store in their right minds want to open a business in minority neighborhoods. You see, all those White folk keep stealing and robbing them blind, don’t ya know.

  • Anonymous

    The concept of a “food desert” is just a lie, a canard. I’ve been a supermarket cashier, so I’ve seen how blacks shop when they have access to full-service supermarkets. They buy mostly processed food, microwaveable items, and little or no fresh foods.

    If there were really demand for fresh produce in the ghetto, like there is for cigarettes, beer, and Frito-Lay, then ghetto convenience stores would carry fresh produce.

    The blacks can’t complain about the price of fresh produce either. It’s free, swipe yo’ EBT.

  • Anonymous

    I married into a poor culture in the sixties, appalachia, land of rednecks,hillbillies and other folk that can safely be made fun of.

    You find some fat people there, now. I have not seen many. Back when, the men all were lanky, some older women were a little padded, but not obese.

    As poor and far from grocery stores as those people were, they should have been walking lumps of fat.

    I guess the standard poor people’s diet of beans, cornbread, greens, “garden stuff”and milk from the cow in the barn does not make you fat.

    Now what are those modern poor people eating that makes them so obese? Maybe they should try moving their bodies, like working.

  • Anonymous

    “Experts say poor people and a disproportionate number of minorities live in areas lacking adequate grocery options, so-called food deserts.”

    Food deserts?” Then what are they eating to make themselves obese?

  • Jeddermann.

    They are eating a diet not commensurate with their metabolism. Trying to eat the whitey dairy based diet and not able to digest milk products. ONLY 20 % of the persons on the planet cannot handle the dairy based diet and almost all are whitey.

    Especially blacks and American Indians suffer terribly from this lack of enzyme need to break down milk products. Consumption of milk and milk products also gives them diarrhea so that even when they eat the proper foods those items are not properly digested and they develop malnourishment but not starvation.

    And what does the gov do? Given them free cheese from warehouses and gives the kids a milk break at school to make them “big and strong”.

  • Seneca the Younger

    I know a way to solve this. It will actually solve several other problems as well, like EBT fraud.

    The Roman Empire in times of famine and war, starting with Augustus Caesar, would have the local Urban Cohorts (Rome P.D.) deliver the food to needy citizens door to door.

    Since blacks are more dangerous than Latins (the REAL Latins), maybe have a community center in every neighborhood or do a meals on wheels sort of thing. Food is dropped off based on number of residents in said house.

    Oh yeah, only fruits, vegetables, bread, white meat, and grains. Alcohol, red meat, soda, etc. are all luxuries and not a civil right.

  • Istvan

    They’re fat because WE allow them to buy chips and candy with their SNAP (FS) benefits. If WE weren’t so inconsiderate they wouldn’t be fat. If we limited their SNAP (FS) choices to meat and vegeables they would eat a healthier diet. WE allow this!

    PS: SNAP is the USDA’s new name for the Food Stamp program.

  • sbuffalonative

    Experts say poor people and a disproportionate number of minorities live in areas lacking adequate grocery options, so-called food deserts.

    A couple years ago, a black reporter for the Buffalo News did a story about the closing of a large grocery store. At first he blamed the problems on corporate leaders who didn’t have any concerns for the well-being of blacks.

    However, as the article progressed, he let other things slip in such as poor management and uncaring staff, higher than average “shrink”, and the customers themselves who turned petty problems and complaints into major issues.

    By the end of the piece, it was understandable why the corporate leaders closed the store. Black managers, black workers, and black customers were just too much trouble.

    It was another example of blacks having only themselves to blame.

  • Anonymous

    Maybe they dropped out of school before the classes on health and nutrition were taught.

  • Soprano Fan

    Left unsaid is exactly WHY there are no major-chain grocery stores in inner-city enclaves. We know the answer is CRIME. No reputable grocery store chain will set up shop in Bantuville.

    Then too, is the matter of so-called health foods – these are pretty much the domain of white residents who can afford to pay more for bland organic food. Most Bantus- especially those on fixed incomes are simply not going to buy “health” foods.

    All these obese Bantus are proving – in an ironic way – that Lyndon Johnson’s “Great Society” and “War on Poverty” programs are working in some measure, after all. Didn’t LBJ’s regime keep peddling the line that American Bantus in the inner city were one missed meal away from death by starvation?

  • Detroit WASP

    Believe it or not…..blacks blame their poor eating habbits on whites.

    http://goo.gl/LIcVE

    “the slave diet”

    Funny that blacks can’t seem to find a grocery store that sells real food. They can certainly find the gym shoe stores out here in the burbs!

    Blacks in Detroit run out all the big chain grocery stores with theft. So, they end up doing all their shopping at the local “party store” A party store is a corner convience store that sells beer, cigs, chips, pop, cookies and a few basic food items like bread and milk. And they all accept food stamps!

  • OnGard

    Remember the news articles on black women refraining from exercise because of their (expensive) hairdos? And black preference for fried foods & fast food? Yet, here we go again–it’s their poverty and lack of access to healthy food in a racist society that causes them to be fat! Rampant shoplifting also results in stores pulling out of ghettos,hence the “food deserts”. Dr.Albert Schweitzer,Nobel prize winner, spent 50+ years in Africa. He said that blacks will “always be our little brothers; we’ll always have to take care of them”. Top U.S. Health officials fear for the future and all the money that will be needed in the coming minority-majority America,to combat the consequences of obesity and diabetes in minorities.One in 3 blacks, 1 of every 2 Hispanics with diabetes, mostly due to lifestyle choice! Yet the productive people will be footing the bill—how nice!

  • madison grant

    Since nothing bad that happens to blacks and hispanics is ever their fault leftists have recently made the ridiculous argument that these people are porky because there are no health food stores in da hood.

    In reality there are quite a few health food shops here in the Bronx and I don’t mind shopping in them because they’re usually empty. Meanwhile the fast food joints next door have lines spilling out onto the street.

  • Mike H.

    “Experts say poor people and a disproportionate number of minorities live in areas lacking adequate grocery options, so-called food deserts.”

    Because rampant theft from these same minorities causes the grocery chains to vacate the area! This is well documented. “Oppression” has nothing to do with it.

    That being said, the last time I deigned to visit my local ghetto convenience store they still sold bread. It was a lot cheaper than the junk food as well. So they still have no excuse.

  • Andromeda

    I’m sure they’ll come up with a plan to buy healthy food for poor minoities, deliver it to them, cook it for them and set it on the table in front of them.

    Then the “oppressed/deprived minority” will throw the food away and head off to McD’s.

  • Anonymous

    But thats ONLY in the western white civilized nations they forgot to mention where they feed 24/7/365 at the pig trough.

    Check out Africa where there is no white spoon fed welfare or freebies. They are all skinny as rails. No fat obese blacks anywhere. They are serious and hungry all the time and eat anything including each other.

    Check out Asia. No fat obese reds or yellows there either. All lean and mean and hungry but shorter so they dont require as much food.

  • Paleface 6

    Dick Gregory was black; follow his diet! Ask yourself, “Where did it grow?” If it takes more than ten words to answer the question, don’t eat it. Also, if the label says something like “2,4-methyl dieforsureium added as a preservative,” don’t eat it.

    How hard is THAT to figure out?

  • Sick of It

    one word…………LAZY. Too lazy to work, exercise, care/raise children corectly. America, keep handing the out the food and money. Everyone is going to try and look “deeper” at this. They must be a deep psychological reason for this (they will say). Lets do research and try and figure this out (they will say). It must be th oppression white america has caused (they will say) Sometime the simple answer is the right answer. The new america expects handouts, no suffering or hardship, and PLEASURE/PLEASURE and more PLEASURE.

  • rjp

    The “food desert” crap is out of hand. Grocery stores situate themselves based on population density and no operator is going to take the risk of placing a store in a under-populated location that they know will have multiple liabilities, shoplifting, gross levels of employee theft, armed robbery …

  • john

    Blacks are disproportionally fat for one simple reason – they lack impulse control.

    This is known to every psychologist who’s studied them, every cop on the beat, everybody who’s been around large numbers of blacks. This is why their crime rate is several times that of whites and other races as well.

    They simply behave more impulsively than other races, which is not a characteristic contributing to self-control, long term achievement, or high levels of success. Obviously, this is not applicable to all blacks, but this tendency is observable as a broad generalization.

  • Alexandra

    Detroit WASP–I remember all the party stores in the area that I went to had an Arab behind the counter (I used to live in Oak Park, then Ferndale, now I live in Ohio).

    My dad used to work at a Wrigley’s grocery store in Detroit–but that was before the race riots, which started down the street from where he was working. I’ve heard from relatives still in the Detroit area that the Ferndale Foodland grocery store has had issues with women’s purses getting snatched…no surprise given how close it is to the Detroit city limits, just a short bus ride up to Nine Mile and Woodward.

    @Andromeda: That was the case in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and the earthquake in Haiti. Blacks threw out food they didn’t want and demanded other things. Those beggars were pretty choosy!

  • Anonymous

    “• Nearly 80 percent of black women and 75 percent of Hispanic women are overweight or obese compared to 60 percent of white women.”

    60 percent obese is horrible for any race. I’m 70. America has gotten obese in my lifetime. We went to Church every Sunday when I was a kid. I don’t remember anyone who was fat. In my entire elementary and high schools I can only remember about 4 people who were obese. Same in college and until about 1985.

    5ft 4 130 pound women were considered 10 pounds overweight when I was young. Now the average American woman is 5ft4 and weighs 164 pounds. 40 pounds overweight. Average size of the American woman is size 14. Largest normal size is 16. After 16 one needs to go to women’s actually fat ladies sizes, 1X to 3X.

    Now drive past a hispanic elementary school half the kids are little butterballs. It is unusual to see a slim or normal hispanic woman of any age. It is partly the hispanic indian ethnic build, most of their fat is around the waist so they look fatter than races where the fat is proportioned.

    I was a nurse and worked in hospitals and nursing homes. You can see the increase in obesity in families. The 80 year olds are normal weight. Their 50 year old children are 50 pounds overweight and their 25 year old grandchildren are also 50 pounds overweight. If they are 50 pounds overweight at 25 they will be 75 pounds overweight at 50.

    I think it is evolution. Until about 100 years ago most people were undernourished even in America. In 4 generations we went from undernourished underweight to normal to chubby to obese.

    At 5 ft 4 120 I was a bit chubbier than most of my high school and college classmates. I’m now 130 and considered unusually skinny.

    Everyone is getting fatter. But we must only concern ourselves with the minorities.

  • Anonymous

    Why, I’ll tell you why, because KFC and McDonalds accepts EBT cards. When you’re lazy and want instant gratification and want to feed the kids cheap, you go to fast food places.

  • Anonymous

    Blacks and Mexicans are fat because they are impulsive by nature and do not “weigh” the consequences.

  • Sincerely Concerned

    “…it’s almost impossible to deny the fact that there are considerably far more fas-food restaurants in low-income neighborhoods that have all-minority residents than in affluent suburbs…..It’s also important to realize that junk food (or unhealthy food)is often considerably cheaper and/or purposely priced lower at both major supermarkets and other stores…thus giving the customer a greater incentive to buy it.”

    I disagree to an extent. First, I live in a low-income (HUD, Section 8) neighborhood out of financial necessity right now and there are NO restaurants of any kind within two miles. Second, grocery junk food is cheaper because it is cheaper in quality and cheaper to produce, not just because the producers or the retailers purposely price it lower to give customers the incentive to buy it.

    We all know that healthy food is much more expensive than unhealthy food. I am pretty poor right now and my weight has increased a good bit in the last year because of it. I have to eat cheap food a lot of the time and that’s why I’m overweight. High fiber, high protein groceries are sky high everywhere, while high simple carbohydrate groceries are cheap. This is why most people are overweight, not because there are supposedly fast food restaurants everywhere. Now, that said, impulse does play a big part. One can choose to eat much less of an expensive, healthy food or more of an inexpensive, unhealthy food and feel what one believes is full. I am not excusing the behavior, just offering a different viewpoint.

  • Anonymous

    Overweight people, generally (there are exceptions to this statistical reality) lack self control. They cannot stop eating, even if eating is unhealthy.

    Blacks, as a group (not all, but most), have much less self-control then other groups.

    The above is politically incorrect, for sure, but it is true.

  • CDE

    Healthy food NOT very expensive. It just takes a committment to shop around and know what to look for, then prepare it at home. Blacks are too lazy to do this. It takes forethought and planning which is something they are not very good at. And the lack of grocery stores nearby is no excuse. I ride by bicycle several miles to a store I like and put the groceries in my backpack. Hispanic women do cook, but its the food that’s the problem. Your average Mexican meal is loaded with fat and starch and is consumed in copious amounts. Apologists will find every excuse in the book but never address the real problem.

  • Mr.White

    McDonald’s, November 1, 2011

    “At McDonald’s®, we believe that African-American culture and achievement should be celebrated 365 days a year—not just during Black History Month.”

    All this “celebrating” based upon race is apparently not good for the waistline. Who knew! Instead of blaming whitey, blame corporate racial pandering, in which low IQ minorities apparently cannot resist the impulse to eat junk in celebration of their blackness.

  • MAJ

    The excuses are simply a cover for a general lack of intelligence and insight.

    Granted, some people got a bad spin of the genetic wheel and may have a tendency to be obese but the black population statistics are staggering.

    You cannot tell me that with a mild amount of effort – especially if you’re not working – you can’t perhaps track down better foods at lower prices and maybe prepare them. So take a bus if you have to go a few miles. Hey- why not walk?

    Blacks are stupid and it shows in their health stats.

    And by the way, how many oppressed people through the ages were all fat?

  • Eric D

    That folks in inner cities do not have access to healthy foods is a lie. I have spent much time in mostly-black sections of NYC and I can state first-hand that there are grocery stores, and stores specializing in fruits and vegetables, and – something you rarely see in mostly-white neighborhoods – folks selling fresh fruit alongside the road. I have often stopped by these fruit sellers and purchased a coconut with a straw or fresh pineapple.

    No, the issue is one of personal choice. And that also explains the higher number of fast food spots in black and hispanic areas – supply and demand.

  • Anonymous

    The real tragedy is the 60% of White women who are overweight. Think of all the potential beautiful White women we are missing out of. Look at countries like Norway almost all the women stay in good shape. They are beautiful.

  • Anonymous

    Can’t control themselves, then too lazy to work. The young guys will play sports because its FUN, but forget hard work or being a contributing member of society. So lack of control + laziness = obesity, diabetes, cardiac dz (just alot medical issues taxpayers will help take care of).

  • s

    There is not even anything wrong with junkfood, the question is can people digest it- properly? Usually they can’t.

    Ineffective insulin seems to a common problem. Carbohydrates triggers release of insulin to break it down, but doesnt manage to do so. Instead it manages to stop digestion of fat by triggering its storage. This results in people getting fat and very tired, both of the important energy sources are stopped from functioning. And the hunger increases as food doesnt reach its ideal as fuel.

    Other causes of obesity are bad bacteria in stomach – candida, fungi, yeast. That is Contagious – std.

  • Emphasis should really be set on eating heart-healthy fish quite a few times per week. Fish is a wonderful alternative to high-fat meats. Fish for example herring and salmon is full of omega fatty acid which encourages heart health and fitness. Fish and poultry make superb protein possibilities.