Friday, May 05, 2006

African American Health: Chitterlings should not be on the Kid’s Menu

Eating in the south can be a treat. Collard greens, ribs, ham, sweet potatoes, macaroni and cheese, fried chicken, and peach cobbler are all delicacies of the south. One can not get enough of the good cook’in and eat’in we Southerners pride ourselves on. It is evident in the number of down-home style restaurants that are sprinkled throughout Dixieland. Unfortunately, it is also evident with our numerous health problems i.e. diabetes, obesity, heart disease, hypertension, clogged arteries, high cholesterol, etc.

Obesity throughout America has become an alarming issue with both youth and adults. It is like we are oblivious to the studies conducted that prove obesity is linked to psychological problems and unhealthy bodies. One of the YMCA of America’s slogans is along the lines of “We Take Care of the Mind, Body, and Spirit.” Within Black America this is not the holistic approach taken. We want to believe we are taking care of our spirits by going to church. We think that we are taking care of our minds by reading the bible and watching junk television e.g. MTV, BET, and soap operas. Now, when it comes to the body we are totally absent. Absent from eating right and working out.

On Saturday April 29th, I witnessed something that was not only disturbing, but pathetic. At one of the most famous southern style eating establishments in the Atlanta metro area, a mother purchased a bowl of chitterlings for her toddler. Yes, a toddler. He was cute, rambunctious, eager, and hungry. It was amazing to see a toddler sitting at a table eating chitterlings like he knew what he was eating. I stared so much that the mother rolled her eyes at me signaling to say, ‘What are you looking at? I feed my child what I want to.’ Of course I was appalled at the reality that a parent gave a child pork intestines to eat for dinner. I just believe partaking in the consumption of chitterlings is a decision the individual should make. Not a mother’s decision for her 2 year old child.

Now, don’t be mistaken I ain’t knocking no chitterling eating. I was just shocked to see the child reaching for the Texas Pete hot sauce! However, needless to say the entire scene gave me fuel for this commentary.

In my efforts to support, challenge, lovingly criticize, and inform Black America I have a few statistics for you to ponder or reconsider.

-Number one killer is heart disease (same for whites).

- The prevalence of diabetes among African Americans is about 70% higher than among
white Americans.

- Approximately 69 percent of African American women between the ages of 20 and 74 years of age are overweight and 39% are obese.

-Third leading cause of death is stroke.

-The manifestation of physical illnesses is related to mental health. It occurs at a rate of 15% among African Americans and only 9% among Caucasian Americans.

-44% of African American men are considered overweight and 24% are obese.

-Nearly half (49%) of African Americans have two or fewer servings of fruits and vegetables a day.

-One in three African Americans suffers from high blood pressure/hypertension.

-White Americans are more motivated to enter a fitness program than African Americans.

It is obvious the eating habits of African Americans are linked to poor health. It is up to us to educate each other when we can and serve as healthy eating and fitness role models for our children. Allowing your toddler to eat pig stomach is definitely not modeling health conscious behavior.

Written by Brian E. Payne. Inspired by our future, the black toddler.


Muata said...

Reader Responses below.

Wow! This is horrible. A two yr. old probably can not even digest chitterlings either. -MM

This article is so true, but funny at the same time. -AG

I do believe the awareness of the health crisis around obesity is rising. Some of those delicious foods you mentioned can still be eaten but how they're prepared can make a lot of difference. I heard an well known African American chef speaking about this recently on the radio. He gave a few recipes that he has adapted - greens, sweet potato casserole - that he has adapted to be healthy. And I have read other accounts of the same kind of recipe altering.

Why didn't he (Muata) point out how many parents are in the fast food restaurants ordering dinner for their kids? Is a cheeseburger happy meal from McDonalds any better than a bowl of Chitterlings that I'm sure that kid probably didn't finish? -KS

Let's promote healthy eating habits overall for our people instead of capitalizing on something that will obviously add to society's stereotypical views of us as a race. -KS

I don't think anyone should be eating those piggies...especially a toddler with clean and healthy arteries and a healthy heart!! Why doesn't she just give him a stick of butter????

Blacks have been eating pig guts for years. This is a section of the pig that was given to our ancestors after the pig was slaughtered by a white butcher or slave owner. We have just made the "leftovers" a delicacy! We always make things better or make nothing out of something. It is in our blood. Can you imagine that an area that contains feces is made to taste good. Sounds disgusting, but that is what we eat when we are partaking in chit'lins! Oh! We do need to do better on the health tip! -OP

sj-the-infamous said...

Never chitlin's....

But you know I cannot pass up a good piece of fried chicken! Lawd!

But the kids, man, the kids! The parental units MUST DO BETTER about their diets, and in, turn the diets of those they are responsible for. My nephews and I go back and forth on this all the time. Now their mother had that gastric bypass surgery, lost a ton of weight but has she CHANGED her eating habits? Hell to the nah. And her children eat just like her -- except when they are with me. And it's ALWAYS A MISUNDERSTANDING at the dinner table -- they might be cryin, snot flowing and all, but damnit they will eat healthy -- not what THEY want, and they will EAT ALL OF THEIR FOOD!