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Honoring Black History to Enhance Black History

Updated: Feb 7

At Embrace You Weight and Wellness, we celebrate Black history and prioritize Black Health year-round. However, recognizing Black History Month honors those who fought to ensure Black History was taught and extended from "Negro History Week." Appreciating Black history is fundamental to creating better Black Health. Today four out of five Black women are overweight or have the disease of obesity. Black, non-Hispanic men have obesity rates of 37%. The reasons and solutions for addressing obesity and metabolic health aren't as simple as "eat less, move more." Many obesity triggers weigh heavily on the Black community and drive health risks from social determinants of health to systematic weight bias and racism. Black History Month is an intentional time to:

  • Appreciate the past and the lessons it's taught us

  • Celebrate the present improvements while learning from current injustices and hardships to

  • Implement strategies to improve Black health and transform history.

Recap of events Embrace You Weight & Wellness did raise awareness during BHM:

We hosted four rooms on Clubhouse to discuss important topics in Black Health and Obesity. The discussions were informative and thought-provoking, and the most recent one on "Our Food and Black Obesity Rates" was particularly passionate. Participants engaged in healthy debates and shared their experiences and insights, leading to a greater understanding of how our food affects the obesity rates in our community. Listen to past discussions here!

We launched our new show on called "Embrace You: Hot Topics in Weight Loss." Dr. Sylvia hosts the show, and it airs bi-weekly on the BDO Facebook Live page. So join us for the next episode on 3/3 at 12 pm EST. The show is designed to talk about provide tips and strategies for weight loss, and it covers a range of topics, including weight loss after pregnancy and BMI. Watch the latest episode here!

Dr. Sylvia, Head Embracer, contributed to the publication "Obesity Pillars Roundtable: Body mass index and body composition in Black and Female individuals. Race-relevant or racist? Sex-relevant or sexist?" As a seasoned authority in this domain, her contribution enriched the discussion around the intricate interplay of race and gender in the discourse on obesity and body composition.

Recap of events Embrace You Weight & Wellness did for community engagement during BHM:

Embrace You Weight and Wellness is proud to be a part of the Black Physicians Healthcare Network (BPHN) since April 2022. This month, the organization launched its grant-funded "ENHANCE Your Weight and Wellness Goals Sessions" through BPHN. The sessions are highly engaging and informative. If you're interested our 2024 Embrace You Wellness Workshop Series enrollment is open, you can still join now.  

Dr. Anita Mwalui & Community Engagement Consulting Group led an impactful Black History Health Fair, which was an opportunity for the community to learn more about health and wellness. Dr. Sylvia hosted a table doing the Sugar Shocker Demo, where she raised awareness of helpful vs unhelpful sugar levels in drinks so people can decide what they drink without shame or shock. The fair covered various topics, including healthy eating, exercise, and mental health. It was a great way to connect with other community members and learn more about leading a healthy and fulfilling life.

Dr. Sylvia was the Health Talk Keynote speaker at Good Hope Union UNC, which was an opportunity for people to learn more about important health topics. She addressed the Mind-Body-Spirit #obesity & health connection after their Black History Month Service.

A historical meeting! Obesity Medicine Association's first official DEI committee

meeting in 2023. Through the years, OMA's minority & diversity-focused committee has evolved from "Outreach committee" to "International and Diversity" to "Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion". Regardless of what we call the committee, what matters most is its mission to provide culturally tailored and effective obesity care.

Focusing on DEI is essential to treat obesity effectively and improve well-being. Briefly,

-Obesity disproportionately impacts minorities, with non-Hispanic, Black women having the highest rates of obesity and being overweight. The reasons for this are far more complicated than "calories in vs calories out" and need specialized solutions.

-There are also special considerations in diagnosing obesity amongst various racial and ethnic groups.

-Recommendations have to incorporate cultural and personal preferences.

-Minority groups face the effects of compounded biases- weight bias, racial/ ethnic bias, gender bias, mental health stigma, and more.

Dr. Sylvia says "I'm grateful to be part of the transformation through the years and excited for the returning and new members of the committee. After being an active committee member for years, in 2023, I'm honored to serve as Board Liasion. We have an outstanding group of compassionate, knowledgeable, culturally sensitive obesity experts. I can't wait for the committee's contributions this year. "

New Research: Obesity among African American people in the United States by Drs. Holly Lofton, Jamy D. Ard, Rameck R. Hunt, Michael G. Knight.

Two of Dr.Sylvia's colleagues from the Council of Black Obesity Physicians (Drs. Holly Lofton and Rameck Hunt) co-authored this insightful review. It provides an in-depth look at the contributing factors to high rates of obesity in African American people beyond "calories in vs calories out." Factors such as the impact of systematic racism, cultural beauty norms, the need for holistic, culturally relevant and personalized strategies, and more are discussed. Click here for the full article in the Obesity Journal (Volume 31, Issue 2).

Head Embracer, Dr. Sylvia's Corner

Every year our family chooses a theme for Black history month. This year it was food! Our annual tradition is visiting the original Ben Chili Bowl in DC. The back room has many historical pictures on the walls and a great video playing. I love sitting in the back room and discussing the pictures with the kids. However, this year we had an extra treat as Ben's co-founder Virginia Ali visited. She was a gracious host and a joy to meet.

We attended BEYA (Black Engineer of The Year Award) where my husband Rodney Bollie was recognized for our nonprofit STEM lab in Liberia. It was wonderful to celebrate his achievements. We are so proud of him!

Additionally, we watched High on A Hog this year, based on Dr. Jessica B. Harris' work. I want my children to appreciate our food, culture, and excellent health coexist.

Lastly, as a Black runner, the privilege of running freely in a state that once enslaved people is never lost on me. I am grateful to run freely. I started my "Fast, Far, Fit before 40" Marathon Training this month.

Your turn:

How do you and your loved ones honor Black History month?


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