<em>Patt Morrison</em> is known for its innovative discussions of local politics and culture, as well as its presentation of the effects of national and world news on Southern California.
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Black women and fat: Is black fat different than white fat?

A women walks down the street on Michigan Avenue 19 October, 2006 in Chicago, Illinois.
A women walks down the street on Michigan Avenue 19 October, 2006 in Chicago, Illinois.

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If current obesity rates don’t change, 42 percent of American adults will be obese by 2030 and about one-quarter of that group will be severely obese, a condition that shortens life and incurs large medical expenses, according to a new study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. As it is, 35.7 percent of adults are already obese, as reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Everyone agrees that obesity is an expensive medical and social health problem that needs to be alleviated, but not everyone agrees on how to effectively approach the fight against it. Some organizations advocate instituting a sugar tax, others push for a penny-per-ounce tax, while some individuals simply call for a “body-culture revolution.”

Certain minority groups suffer from dangerously higher obesity rates, including black women, with four out of five of them considered to be seriously overweight. In a New York Times article published last week, African American scholar Alice Randall stated that black women choose to be fat because “our men like us bigger.” She goes on, “Chemically, in its ability to promote disease, black fat may be the same as white fat. Culturally, it is not.”

A report from the Institute of Medicine released on Tuesday backs a multi-pronged approach to fighting obesity, but admits that there is no magic bullet to solve the problem.


What will it take to buck the trend and curb obesity? Do we as a society need to completely change the way we think about our health and our bodies? Will lowering obesity rates require a profound and massive cultural revolution?