One of the most pressing challenges modern societies face is a growing obesity crisis. According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) more than one-third of U.S. adults (35.7%) are obese. Non-Hispanic blacks have the highest age-adjusted rates of obesity (49.5%) compared with Mexican Americans (40.4%), all Hispanics (39.1%) and non-Hispanic whites (34.3%).
The medical issues associated with obesity are not just dangerous, they are lethal. Obesity linked diseases include heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer, making obesity the second most preventable cause of death, close behind tobacco in America.
There are many contributing factors to obesity, and the profile of the typical obese American does not necessarily correlate to socio economic class (it does for women, - the poorer the woman the more likely she is to be obese, and in African American men, it is the reverse. Wealthier white men are also less likely to be obese than poorer ones). But the statistics show that the African American community is disproportionately affected by the disease, and much of this has to do with lack of access to low cost, healthy food. According to PolicyLink.org, the African American community in DC is chronically underserved when it comes to grocery stores:
The city’s lowest-income and almost exclusively African American wards (Wards 7 and 8) have one supermarket for every 70,000 inhabitants, while two of the three highest-income and predominantly white wards (Wards 2 and 3) have one for every 11,881 residents. One in five of the city’s food stamp recipients lives in a neighborhood without a grocery store.
As a result, these communities often rely on low cost fast foods that are high in sugar and fat rather than making expensive trips to grocery stores outside their neighborhoods.
'Dreaming Out Loud' a non 501C3 non-profit based in Washington DC runs 'Aya Community Markets' where the aim is "Re-imagining the farmers market experience, while working with “food desert” and “low-access” communities to help provide fresh produce, generate sustainable employment, and open gateways to community health resources that residents need to get healthy and stay healthy." Chris Bradshaw, founding director at 'Dreaming Out Loud' spoke with The Daily Banter about his project, discussing the crisis he sees in America and what can be done about it: