Thursday, February 22, 2007
100 Black Men take on the challenge
If you have ever discussed the obesity epidemic, the discussion probably has come back around to responsibility. Some will blame the government; others may blame the fast-food industry. The medical establishment will most likely take a hit and so will the news media. I have been personally taken to task for not doing enough, and I've tried to respond with my Fit Nation project. Many ask, though, what about personal responsibility? When should we be held accountable as individuals?

The truth is, it's not always easy. There are certainly people who cannot lose weight, no matter how hard they try. They may need to seek medical attention. Still, the vast majority of those who are overweight - nearly 60 percent of all adults in America are considered overweight - probably can do something about it. And, those people are the target of the organization 100 Black Men. They are taking responsibility.

Started as a civic organization, promoting scholarship mentoring, its leaders realized that without good health, little else would matter. David Dinkins, Jackie Robinson and many others were the visionaries that helped start the organization back in 1963. Now with former Surgeon General David Satcher helping lead the charge, they are trying to protect the legacy they worked so hard to build. With African American children twice as likely to be obese as white children, that legacy is certainly in danger.

The program focuses on simple things: making sure you take 10,000 steps each day and eat nine servings of fruits and vegetables. The strategies have worked. As an organization, they consistently lowered blood pressure and blood sugar levels in the groups they targeted. They represent some of the very best grass-roots initiatives that are truly making a difference. Now, they are taking their mission national. In many ways, though, it still raises the original question: Who is responsible for the fact the United States has become one of the most obese countries in the world? Organizations like 100 Black Men will only be able to do so much. What can you do?
Obesity -- What a shame there are starving men, women and children in our world and here in America we are walking around like "fattening pigs". We daily feast on everything from "french fries" to "frozen fudge frappuccino" without giving it a second thought. Balance---it's all about balance. Last year after a brief illness I began losing weight and after the first 15 or 20 pounds I felt so much better I decided it was time to get it all off. At 47 years old and 5 feet tall with a petite frame and a grandmother with a history of heart disease I realized it was now or never. In 5 months I lost 65 pounds by balancing my food intake and daily exercise. At 48 I feel better than I have in 25 years. My life has balance and I am filled with energy galore.
I wish for America's sake and the rest of the world's citizens we could all find a balancing point. Wouldn't it be nice if everyone in the world had enough food and all of the over-indulgers had just what they needed but not too much.
Our world would be happier, healthier and headed in the right direction. I wish success to the 100 Black Men project. Hang in there and reach out to our population by setting positive examples and reaching realistic goals. Let's all do our part to make America a better place to live!
Hi Dr. Gupta,
At the end of the day WE are responsible for our own weight and health. Too thin or too heavy, it doesn't matter as long as there are no health problems. We can educate, we can stress healthy options, tell people to exercise, but we can't change anyone who doesn't want to change. Take Care
I think the idea that 'some people cannot lose weight no matter how hard they try' is complete nonsense. Statements like these reinforce a general sense of helplessness over obesity, and if repeated by the media over time may exacerbate this nation's problems.

If you took one of your people who supposedly "cannot lose weight no matter how hard they try", locked them in a bathroom for a couple months, and gave them only water, vitamin pills, veggies, and minimal amounts of protein, they would most definitely lose weight.

The bottom line is that fat people need to try harder and eat a hypocaloric diet. No pill, cream, or home gym can compensate for a lack of willpower.
Dear Dr. Sanjay Gupta,

A very good question all public health officials are asking today: Should African American men be held personally responsible for their own health?
The answer is a very hard one to get: It is just not about personal responsibility, but also environmental responsibility, such as economic status, accessibility and affordability to healthcare and most of all: historical and socio-cultural stigma towards modern medicine.
It is pretty hard for a health offical or educator to approach men (from every race and culture) directly to teach them how to obtain healthy lifestyle habits.
And in particular young African American men of age 13 and older are the hardest to approach. It is important to look at their community surroundings first to understand why there is a lack of responsiveness to seeking health care or to be willing to obtain health lifestyle habits.
I believe it's about the choices we make. You can choose to go to McDonalds or go home and cook a healthy meal. You can choose to sit at home and do nothing or you can go for a short jog or do something as little as a few push ups. Your physical health is up to the individual them selves. They have nobody else to blame but them selves if they are over weight. As an EMT i'm continuosly transporting people that have weight related health problems. It's all about the choices you make for YOUR SELF! Only YOU can choose to loose weight and then you have to CHOOSE to stick with it and keep it off.
something needs to be done... typically, it would be just a personal problem with personal solutions, with everyone expected to mind their own health. however, as the government subsidizes increasing amounts of healthcare, it's suddenly everyone's problem. everyone is now footing the bill for health problems related to obesity, the marathon runner is now subsidizing the coach potato to go get liposuction. as such, i think it's time some kind of hard and fast action were taken. we're too willing to sit back and say, "don't meddle with our personal lives", but as long as americans are increasingly expecting the government to control and finance healthcare, then the government needs to step up and do something about possibly the single biggest health risk in our nation: obesity.
All these "do's" are good, sure, but a good way to clarify thismessafe is to mention some of the "dont's".
For example, "9 servings" fruit and veggies, sounds too hard because when do I get to eat the "Good" stuff. Iy comes down to: You don't, because it's not "good stuff"! If it is processed it is most likely "Bad". Fruit & veggies are almost all that is left.
Do your research, don't expect everyone to say this is true, especially vested interests... You will see a pattern that starts to make sense. Hydrogenated oils, refined flour & sugar, artificial sweeteners, high fructose corn syrup, all prosessed and useless, except to make it tasty enough to buy more. Profits after all. A lifetime of eating these will make you sick of something. Get over it, eat healthy, you will have a body that can repair itself again, (those few cells that get out of control once in a while...) A sick body cannot fight disease, it's what we do when we are healthy..
Best wishes and prayers to all,
I have found a company, Genspec that makes multivitamins, weightloss etc., that are made specifically for each ethnic group. Since I have been taking the African American male vitaman I have never felt better. My daughter has lost over 13 pounds with the African American weight loss. I just hope that our community will take note and work to keep our families together with better health.
Dr. Gupta

I am a 51-year-old African American male that had undergone a physical exam in 2006. At my follow up visit, my Doctor made it very clear to me that if I wanted to live to be a healthy 60 year old I had better lose some weight. I was 5� 5� and weighed 235 pounds, my blood pressure was up around 163/85, and my total cholesterol was above normal. My doctor explained to me that at the rate that I was gaining weight I was becoming susceptible to all kinds of illnesses, especially heart disease.

My doctor wrote me a prescription for blood pressure medication and recommended that I start an exercise program and follow the American Heart Association diet. The shocker came as I was leaving his office. The doctor very frankly stated, Lorenzo, as a single parent, who is going to raise and love your three young kids the way that you do, if you was to die prematurely from being fat. He also asked me to look around the shopping mall and count the number of three hundred pound men that I observe walking with their kids.

Today, I have lost over forty-five pounds and my blood pressure is normal. I have more energy than I have had in years. I no longer make excuses for not exercising. I am at the YMCA five days a week at 5:30AM. I return home at 6:45 AM, get the kids ready for school and prepare for work. I am still not at my ideal weight but I do know that I will achieve that goal. My doctor�s frankness motivated me to succeed. Prior to 2006 I had been told numerous times that I needed to lose weight for my health. I would procrastinate and tell myself that I would start an exercise program. When my goals and reasoning for losing weight changed than I changed.
I applaud the efforts of 100 Black Men. However, I am quite dismayed by reading the comments of some of the readers. Are they aware of the fact that some people do not have easy access to healthy foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grain products? The foods that they have access to are may be cheap, fast food because there are no grocery stores in there community?

The first thing that people must realize is that obesity is not caused by one thing. There are multiple casues of obesity, which include lifestyle habits, genetics, and the environment in which you live. Those who say that all overweight orobese people can lose weight by simple going on a hypocaloric diet and getting exercise need to STEP INTO REALITY. As Dr. Gupta stated, it can be extremely difficult for some people to lose weight due to genetic disorders. Scientific studies have proven that.

As a former obese person, I must say that those people who think it is easy to lose weight are crazy. Losing weight and maintaining weight loss takes a tremendous amount of teancity. I am thankful that the 100 Black Men have taken on this initiative to make our community healthier!
Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN's chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends -- info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.
CNN Comment Policy: CNN encourages you to add a comment to this discussion. You may not post any unlawful, threatening, libelous, defamatory, obscene, pornographic or other material that would violate the law. Please note that CNN makes reasonable efforts to review all comments prior to posting and CNN may edit comments for clarity or to keep out questionable or off-topic material. All comments should be relevant to the post and remain respectful of other authors and commenters. By submitting your comment, you hereby give CNN the right, but not the obligation, to post, air, edit, exhibit, telecast, cablecast, webcast, re-use, publish, reproduce, use, license, print, distribute or otherwise use your comment(s) and accompanying personal identifying information via all forms of media now known or hereafter devised, worldwide, in perpetuity. CNN Privacy Statement.