3 Obesity Health Risks
The African-American obesity epidemic is resulting in severe health risks.
The health of the Black community is in serious trouble, and many of the problems we face are centered around weight control. According to the Office of Minority Health, about four out of five African-American women are overweight or obese, while African-American men are 31.6 percent more likely to be obese. A staggering 25.7 percent of Black children are battling weight issues as well.
The reasons for these high obesity rates range from poor diets and limited access to healthy foods to a reluctance to exercise. However, if the obesity problem is not addressed, it can have dire and sometimes deadly consequences.
High Blood Pressure
All of that extra fat tissue in the body needs oxygen and nutrients to survive, therefore the heart and blood vessels must work harder to circulate more blood to the fat. The additional circulating blood then causes more pressure on the artery walls, leading to high blood pressure. High blood pressure is not only detrimental to the arteries and heart, but it can damage the kidney and brain as well.
Inactivity, obesity, and an unhealthy diet contribute to high LDL cholesterol levels (the “bad” cholesterol that can form a thick, hard plaque that narrows the arteries and makes them less flexible.) It can also cause low HDL cholesterol levels (the “good” cholesterol that can protect against heart attacks.) And while your genetic makeup does play a part in the amount of cholesterol your body produces, you can help keep your cholesterol levels in check by exercising regularly and eating the right foods, such as oatmeal, fish, and nuts.
Obesity can also cause a number of respiratory problems, including shortness of breath and sleep apnea. Shortness of breath may occur when an obese individual performs a modest physical task, such as walking down the street. This breathing problem is caused by a heavier than normal chest wall, which makes it harder for the individual to expand his lungs and take in a full breath.
Obesity can also contribute to sleep apnea, which is a temporary cessation of breathing during sleep. It occurs when fat compresses the neck and blocks the windpipe. People with this condition may experience poor quality of sleep, which can lead to tiredness throughout the day. Sleep apnea can have devastating consequences, such as heart rhythm disturbances and even sudden death.
How do you and your family combat obesity?
Erika L. Sánchez is currently a contributor for The Huffington Post and NBC Latino, and a sexpert for Cosmopolitan for Latinas. She was a recipient of the 2013 Discovery/”Boston Review” Prize and her poetry has appeared in Pleiades, Hunger Mountain, Hayden’s Ferry Review, and many others.
Photo Credit: Flickr/LexnGer