Is It Cool To Be Black, Fat, And Female?

Melissa Viviane Jefferson, known professionally as Lizzo, performed at the 2019 MTV Video Music Awards. Healthyceleb.com reports that the performer is 5 ft 10 and weighs 209.5 lbs. This puts her body mass index at 30.1, which is categorized as obese by the National Institutes for Health. Image: KEVIN MAZUR, WIREIMAGE/DMCA

“African American women have the highest rates of being overweight or obese.” – U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Minority Health

Is Lizzo (5’10”, 209.5 lbs) a suitable role model for youth and minorities?

Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Adult Obesity in the United States: CDC’s Tracking to Inform State and Local Action

Centers for Disease Control, April 11, 2019

Based on combined data for 2015 through 2017: 

  • 31 states had an obesity prevalence of 35% or higher among black adults;
  • 8 states had an obesity prevalence of 35% or higher among Hispanic adults;
  • only 1 state had an obesity prevalence of 35% or higher among white adults.

OTHER HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Adults with obesity often have multiple-organ system complications from the condition and, as a result, are more at risk for heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and multiple types of cancers.
  • The estimated annual medical cost of obesity in the United States was $147 billion in 2008.
  • Compared with spending for someone of normal weight, medical spending for a person with obesity was $1,429 higher (42% higher) per year.
  • Adult obesity decreases productivity, and the cost of lost productivity is between $3.4 and $6.4 billion per year.
  • Adult obesity also increases the risk of workplace injuries.
  • Obesity among young adults limits the eligibility for many to serve in our military, given the weight standards for recruitment that nearly 1 in 4 young adults are not able to meet.
  • The risk of adult obesity is greater among adults who had obesity as children, and racial and ethnic disparities exist by the age of 2.

Source: CDC 

Obesity and African Americans

  • African American women have the highest rates of being overweight or obese compared to other groups in the U.S.
  • About four out of five African American women are overweight or obese.
  • In 2015, African Americans were 1.4 times as likely to be obese as whites.
  • In 2015, African American women were 60 percent more likely to be obese than white women.
  • In 2011-2014, African American girls were 50% more likely to be overweight than white girls.
  • People who are overweight are more likely to suffer from high blood pressure, high levels of blood fats, diabetes, and LDL cholesterol — all risk factors for heart disease and stroke.
  • In 2015, African Americans were 20% less likely to engage in active physical activity as whites.
  • Deaths rates from heart disease and stroke are higher for African Americans as compared to whites.

Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Minority Health