In honor of The Root's Black, Fit and Healthy Series, we hit the streets to see what people in downtown Washington, D.C., had to say about our community's weight issue. Despite new research that suggests that there's no end in sight to America's obesity epidemic, not everyone thinks it's such a big problem to solve.
"There's obesity in America, period — people are overeating. Altogether, even though they advertise [exercise] all the time, people are not exercising as much. People are working longer hours, the food is not really as nutritional as it should be and they're giving us larger portions of food."
"The black consumer, as far as food is concerned, doesn't know what manufacturers are putting in this food. I've worked for food processing plants — [they put in] ammonia, salt as high as the Washington Monument, sugar. They take about five or six ingredients and make all kinds of things."
"[Black people] can stop [obesity] if we want to. It's just how we eat. We can get on [diet] plans and do things like that, but I wouldn't necessarily say it's an epidemic …
"You can be big, you can be small — but it's all about how you're eating. I sometimes don't eat the way I'm supposed to, and my doctor tells me I'm overweight. But, as long as I'm healthy, I'm OK with it. I mean, he tells me I'm overweight, but everything's fine."
"We're definitely [facing an obesity epidemic]. Depending on where you are, we're usually more impoverished, and we usually have less access to fruits and vegetables. And, in the South, Southern soul food is meat, grease, butter … I'm a vegan."
"I think the problem in the black community is clear — you have neighborhoods that don't have access to fresh groceries. You have folks that don't have the ability to shop at a lot of the places that serve people who are the healthiest in the country. The reality is there's a built-in cost barrier to these things. Unfortunately, that disproportionately affects African Americans.
"If you're deciding whether this is going to be good for you, or whether it's going to be enough to feed your family, you're always going to choose the latter. Unfortunately, there are too many families in the country that have to make that decision every day."
"Although we definitely want to say that you should be comfortable in your own skin, we still need to promote a healthy lifestyle. And I think the message is getting crossed between accepting who you are and living a healthy life.
"I've lost 65 pounds over the last two years. Instead of dieting, I've made sure to do lifestyle changes. As you start to change little things, you start to notice that you have more energy and you're happier in life."
"It really depends on the area of the States that you're in. From what I've heard, the South is pretty prone to obesity, but I think the Midwest is not so bad. Maybe it's just the culture and the society of using cars a lot."
"People are lazy. They don't want to work out. They eat a lot of unnecessary fatty foods. Not to sound biased, but we're lazy. We don't like to exercise and we don't like to eat right."
"I think that poor diet [is] part economic and part cultural. I think that some types of people have a proclivity to [eat] certain types of food traditionally. And, as far as nutrition goes, it definitely has to do with economics. Exercise is just a function — it's not economic; it's just people being lazy. I'm a professional triathlete and compete in triathlons across the country."
"If you look at percentages of people who are overweight or obese, it's going up, and up and up. And that's a problem — it's not healthy. A lot of things [cause it]. Our change in lifestyle — our eating and exercise levels do not match like they used to in history. We basically have changed what we do, but we haven't changed what we eat. And definitely preservatives and a lot of prepackaged foods; we're all about convenience now and that's a part of our society."