10 Factors Besides Lack of Exercise That Have Lead to the 50% Obesity Rate in the African American Community

Black Women on Magazine Covers

Obesity is deeper than a lack of exercise and physical activity. Let’s not avoid the solid scientific fact—if you burn more calories through exercise than the total amount of calories consumed through food, you will lose weight. Now that the fact is out there, the question remains–if losing weight comes down to a simple equation, why are 49.5% (CDC, 2012) of African Americans obese? Many have opinions on the causes of obesity in the black community, and I have mine as well.

Under the surface of obesity lies major issues, from subconscious perceptions of body composition, especially for women–the idea that a woman needs to be “thick” to attract a man. But body composition shackles don’t only come from men who fantasize about having their own personal video girl—black women perpetuate these toxic perceptions of the female body as well. It cannot be ignored that black women who consider losing weight are often discouraged from doing so with comments and questions like “girl, you don’t need to lose weight” or “why, you tryin’ to lose weight, don’t no man want nobody who’s skinny” or “why you starvin’ yourself, you need to eat!”

So here are 10 Factors Besides Lack of Exercise That Have Lead to the 50% Obesity Rate in the African American Community


Just For Me

Relaxers are one of the biggest obstacles black women face in living active lifestyles. Sweating it out in the gym means $60-$80 wasted at the salon and a busted hairdo—not happening.

Ilen Bell is a certified fitness professional and co-founder of Black Fitness Today. His passion for community advocacy, producing relevant stories and providing tools and resources that cater to the underserved African American community remain at the forefront. His credentials include advanced education in exercise science and internet marketing, the fitness industry highly-respected certified strength and conditioning specialist certification, and multiple web fitness series on top websites LIVESTRONG.com and eHOW.com. He is focused on further building explosive, dynamic and approachable brands to help the African American man and woman feel empowered, valued and identified in the global health and fitness industry.

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Amber Anderson, MS


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