Men’s Health Nutrition

Causes, Effects, and Prevention of Obesity in Black Men  

Written by Ifeanyi Paschal

Health benefits inspire specific lifestyle choices, and obese Black men are no exception to it. To be clear, studies have shown that if you are overweight, you’re less likely to develop dementia, your immune system could be stronger than that of an average dude out there, and you may even live longer.  As an obese Black man reading this article, you are probably not worried sick about your weight because you believe that obesity is beneficial to your wellness. Well, I am a fellow Black man who loves to help people like you achieve healthy living. Here’s the thing–don’t let those “too good to be true” perks deceive you because other health researchers are still doing more studies to determine their veracity. That said, it’d do you a world of good if you’d grasp the disparity between being overweight and obesity. 

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), you are overweight when you have excessive fat deposits in your body, but obesity is a chronic complex disease defined by excessive fat deposits that could affect your wellness. In other words, while being overweight may not pose any serious health concerns, obesity is a disease that should be treated. The UN health agency states that if your body mass index (BMI) is equal to or greater than 25, then you are overweight. On the other hand, if your BMI is equal to or greater than 30, you are obese!

Studies indicate that these factors contribute to obesity in Black men:

  • Socioeconomics: Socioeconomic factors (such as education, income, and occupation) contribute to obesity among black men. For instance, low-income earners may have less access to more grocery, thus leading to fewer healthy options
  •  Food choices: Consuming more calories (especially from fatty and sugary foods) than you burn through physical activities causes obesity. The body builds excess energy as fat and the fat builds up over time, leading to weight gain. For example, the Southern-style diet among Black men in America’s Southeastern region increases obesity  
  • Genetics: Some genes are associated with obesity because those genes affect the amount of food we eat. Think of it this way: Inheriting certain genetic traits from your parents – such as having a large appetite – may worsen your chances of achieving weight loss 
  • Racism/discrimination: Structural racism worsens the health disparities between Black men in the United States and the other racial groups, and it limits access to healthy foods, safe exercising spaces, medications, and adequate healthcare insurance. This is the major cause of obesity among Black men

Obesity and Black Men: Prevalence and Consequences

As an overweight Black man, you may become obese in the future. To buttress that fact, one study by the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (WVDHHR) indicates that overweight adolescents have a 70% chance of becoming overweight or obese adults, and the odds worsen to 80% as these children become parents. This study simply tells you one thing: If you are overweight now, you could become obese if you throw caution to the winds.  

But then, why should you worry whether you are overweight or obese? That’s simply because being overweight or obese comes with numerous health problems, including cardiovascular diseases (heart diseases and stroke), type 2 diabetes, muscular disorder (osteoarthritis), cancers (breast and colon cancer), musculoskeletal discomfort, infertility, erectile dysfunction, prostate cancer, breathing problems (asthma and sleep apnea), and metabolic syndrome. Do you want any of those health issues? You certainly don’t!

To highlight the prevalence of obesity in Black men, one CDC report indicates that those between ages 20 and 39 have a 40.3% prevalence rate, while Black men between ages 40 and 59 have a 46.4% prevalence rate. Furthermore, the study shows that obesity in Black men between 60 and above dropped to 42.2%. Although the study tells us that obesity in Black men dropped at some point, we can take further steps to make it much better, considering the health issues associated with obesity! Now, let’s find out how to do that.

Ways Black Men Can Prevent Obesity

To prevent obesity, consider implementing one or more of the following:

  1. Eat healthy meals: Whether you are a young man or a senior, eating meals rich in fruits, veggies, grains, and beans enhances healthy living. That’s because they are rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals, and free of cholesterol, and low in saturated fat and calories. Try new recipes like Caribbean casserole, vegetable stew, finger-licking curried chicken, etc.
  2. Be physically active: Plus, whether you are already obese or you wish to watch your weight, you have to be physically fit by aiming for 60 -90 minutes or more of moderate-to-arduous physical activity. I recommend walking, running, jogging, and playing tennis. Maintaining an active lifestyle is an effective way of slowing down your weight gain.
  3. Regular checkups: If you are already overweight, you should keep your weight in check by going for regular checkups. Keep in mind that some individuals appear thin but are susceptible to obesity. That’s why it is extremely important to go for checkups and seek advice from a physician.
  4. Avoid certain things: If your BMI is between 18.5 and 24.9, you are healthy. To achieve that, there are certain things you must eliminate. First, avoid sugar consumption. If you like ice cream and candies, avoid them because they contain large amounts of calories and have no nutrients. Therefore, enjoying them is an invitation to obesity, heart diseases, and type 2 diabetes. Plus, according to the WHO, sodium causes weight gain, so the appropriate amount of salt per meal shouldn’t exceed 5 grams.
  5. Drink plenty of water: Did you know that drinking water enhances an adult’s resting energy expenditure by 30%? It sure does! Health researchers have also linked constant water consumption to weight loss, lower body mass index, and body fat reduction.

In this article, you have learned the factors that increase obesity in Black men, the health implications and the tidbits for attaining healthy living. So, I urge you to take those steps immediately to avert obesity.

Further reading:

About the author

Ifeanyi Paschal

Ifeanyi Paschal is an experienced researcher and versatile writer. With nearly a decade of experience in the writing industry, Paschal has coordinated and participated in several research studies and written for companies in a wide spectrum of industries, including health and wellness, tech, HRM, and business development.

As a writer with Elevate Black Health, Paschal goes the extra mile to do extensive research and craft health and wellness articles that help the global Black community deepen its understanding of relevant health challenges, find effective solutions to them, and maximize healthy living.

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