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?
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