The NAACP is committed to using its voice to sound the alarm about childhood obesity rates that plague this young generation, deemed the first that will not live longer than their parents. Childhood obesity remains an issue of enormous social impact for which there are significant racial and systemic bias implications.
African American children are more likely to be poor, obese and to live in unsafe communities where there are few opportunities for physical activity, higher exposures to harmful environmental factors, fewer supermarkets and limited access to healthy food options. African American children are less likely to have access to preventive care and more likely to have emergency room visits than their white counterparts.
Addressing the issue of childhood obesity in the African American community requires an advocacy agenda designed to change policies and programs at the local, state and federal levels. It is important to build an effective, community-wide outreach plan that will provide African American families with, and increase awareness about, the need to eradicate childhood obesity across this country.
Targeting childhood obesity is an opportunity to implement a cross-generational approach to the promotion of healthy behaviors in Black families.
Many communities, especially in smaller and more rural areas, have been subjected to environmental racism. Survey local communities and determine whether there are landfills, coal ash dumping sites, spray fields or “brownfield sites” near residential areas. Request county health data on lead levels in the local drinking water. Also, gather local health data on the prevalence of asthma or other respiratory diseases in the area. Work to educate the community on the dangers of these and other environmental challenges and fight to remove health hazards from your community.
Survey the community to determine how far residents must travel to reach a full-service grocery store that sells fresh fruits and vegetables. Many smaller and predominantly African American communities are disproportionately serviced by corner stores, bodegas and discount groceries that provide easy access to heavily processed foods, canned goods and generic food products with only limited access to fresh fruits, vegetables and meats.
People who live in lower income areas shouldn’t have to travel far to have access to healthy foods for themselves and their families. If you have a community in your area that is in a food desert, challenge the major grocery store chains to invest in your community.
HIV & AIDS
The NAACP aims to address HIV in the Black community from a social justice perspective, understanding that it is critical for us to reach out and collaborate with institutions that have traditionally served as the supporters of civil rights and justice in our community.
We recognize that HIV activism is a complex issue and understand the reservations many will have about addressing HIV from the pulpit. Nevertheless, we believe that with increased knowledge about HIV, and with a view of this issue from a spiritual and biblical perspective, faith leaders and their churches will be able to adopt some of the strategies outlined here.