Black health matters

By Dr. Asha Fields Brewer

According to the 2015 Center for Disease Control and Prevention health report, 56.9 percent of Black women over the age of 20 are obese. There are several concerning things here, but let’s focus on just a couple. 

First, the report did not say our sisters are slightly overweight, curvy but fit, or still bouncing back from a baby. The report said “obese,” which is an entirely different category above being overweight that comes with its own health risks and threats to the quality of life.

Second, 56.9 percent is over half! This may seem like just a statistic to you, but what this is really saying is that over half of our mothers, grandmothers, aunts, nieces, biological cousins, “play” cousins, best girlfriends—over half of our sisters—are currently battling with or could eventually deal with life-threatening health issues.

Why do you think the statistic is as high as it is?  Is it that we can’t swap out a few ingredients to make our famous casserole healthier? Is it that fresh hairstyles are keeping us from getting the exercise the heart, digestive system, joints, hormones, and other systems in the body truly need? Is it that work, community, and family responsibilities are too much to even think about taking care of ourselves?

I ask you to consider the “Proverbs 31 Woman.” She is often touted as the “example” for women of faith. What do you think her approach was to maintaining a healthy lifestyle?

Verse 13 tells us that “she brings her food from afar.” She eats well, because she pauses to prepare. Maybe she keeps a running list of her favorite restaurants that offer affordable, nutritious meals. If she enjoys cooking, perhaps she pauses to make a grocery list before heading to the store, so she buys only what she needs and less of what she craves. She purchases sugary and salty snacks and fast food sparingly, so they don’t become the norm in her home. She is committed to food that fuels and nourishes her as she pursues her purpose. 

If you keep reading, the Proverbs 31 Woman “dresses herself with strength and makes her arms strong.” While we know that she also contributes time to those in need, manages the home, and works, she does not allow these tasks to keep her from taking proper care of her temple. She values her temple as the physical means by which she carries out her spiritual assignment. 

The Proverbs 31 Woman likely has a healthy habit of saying “no” when she knows that commitments would overwhelm her schedule. She may even look for time throughout the day to make healthy choices, such as a walk after lunch or stretch breaks throughout the workday. Perhaps she enjoys healthy activities with her friends and family, allowing her to practice social wellness and physical wellness collectively. If she makes a few unhealthy decisions, she doesn’t beat herself up about it, nor does she give up altogether. She understands that good health isn’t about living life perfectly, it’s about living life abundantly.

Women play many roles in the family, such as decision-makers, pace-setters, educators, and more. What we teach our children, they take into adulthood. The standard we set today becomes the model for generations to come. Therefore, let’s commit to changing the statistics in our homes, so we can change our community and change the culture. Let’s make Black health matter. 

Dr. Asha Fields Brewer is a Creator of Healthy Conversations. As a national speaker and published author, she teaches the busy & overwhelmed how to live life abundantly. She is the owner of the Temple Fit Co. wellness agency, which is home to 25+ wellness speakers and fitness instructors. Tune in to “Temple Fit Devotions with Dr. Asha” on Wednesdays at 4 pm on Hallelujah 95.3 FM.