Obesity is a serious problem for the African American community which has been determined to be one the greatest factors to other health problems such as high blood pressure and diabetes. Many African Americans develop their eating habits and obesity during childhood. The most influential aspects of this is the environments African Americans grow up in. One study attempted to gain understanding of things in the environment that influence eating habits of African American youth living in low-income conditions. The study took place in African American neighborhoods in Baltimore city, and involved 20 African American youth between the ages of 10 and 16 years. The participants in the study were interviewed, and observed in terms of their eating habits and influences on their diet. Six environments were determined to influence the eating habits of the participants. These environments included, neighborhood, school, family, and friends.
Studies like this will help determine where efforts need to be focused to reduce obesity, which a major focus should be placed on neighborhood and school environments. This does not alleviate any of the influence from the family, but there needs to be consistency within the community of African American youth because school and neighborhoods are highly influencing aspects of diet. This study is also helpful because there are few studies about African Americans and obesity even though the condition occurs at such a high rate among African Americans.
What does this mean for African Americans? This means that African Americans as a community must establish, promote, and reward healthy eating standards. This can be accomplished through education about preventable health problems such as obesity diabetes, and high blood pressure and how these issues are related to diet. Another thing that must happen is that African American adults must model healthy eating habits, which assists the education aspect of healthy eating. This also means that schools and neighborhood stores and restaurants must be challenged to represent the desire of the community to eating and living healthy.
Christiansen, K., Qureshi, F., Schaible, A., Park, S., & Gittlesohn, J. (2013, November-December). Environmental Factors That Impact the Eating Behaviors of Low-income African American Adolescents in Baltimore City. Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, 45(6), 652-660.