Black women have higher rates of overweight and obesity (OVO) compared to their White counterparts; 75.5% and 61.8% respectively. To help combat this public health problem, Beacon Public Health launched a health education campaign, “Unwind with the Tribe” to raise awareness about how our social network, referred to as our “tribe” can influence our health decisions, with an emphasis on food and physical activity
Recent research shows that social and cultural factors can influence Black women’s (living in Prince George’s County, Maryland) attitudes and behaviors towards their weight and strategies to manage their weight. Most notable factors include family and peer influence, where they live, income, and education.
Family influence and family traditions have a big influence on how some Black women make decisions about their diet and physical activity.
In this study, many noted that most socialization occurs over food, and it is a social norm to eat food when offered despite not being hungry and to celebrate or commiserate over food. Their peers exposed them to different eating styles (e.g., pescatarian), motivated them to be physically active, and encouraged adjusting their food choices or portions when eating out. Additionally, many also engaged in work events that centered around food. Participants also expressed that part of Black culture is to be more accepting of larger and curvier body types; thus, reinforcing positive body image and less desire to achieve an “ideal” body mass index or weight, set by Westernized standards. In general, many noted they desired to improve their healthy habits so they could live active lives, free of chronic disease. The findings in the study can be applied to Black women living in other parts of the United States.
Carrying extra weight can lead to a myriad of health issues like poor physical and mental health, decreased social wellbeing, and puts a financial strain on the healthcare system; all of which disproportionately impact Black women.
The “Unwind with the Tribe” campaign will help address these issues while showing how we can infuse our cultural traditions and customs and still be healthy. With a strong emphasis on connectedness, a common value among Black women, this campaign highlights ways in which we can support one another in our health and wellness goals.
We hosted conversations featuring health and wellness experts in our community and shared stories about our social connectedness to food and physical activity. During these conversations, experts shared their personal stories, tools, and resources that Black women can use to make better decisions about their weight while promoting a community of togetherness and leaning in on our social circle for support and accountability.
You can catch the replay here:
Part 2: Yoga w/ Asia Vianna
Additional information about the “Unwind with the Tribe” campaign can be found here: https://www.beaconpublichealth.com/tribeunwind.