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
- 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.