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Overweight and Obesity

•   Overweight and Obesity are conditions that affect black women at a higher rate than any other group.
•   The goal of this portion of the website is to provide you with information about losing weight, being active, and eating healthy, that is tailored to your needs.

Measuring Overweight and Obesity

•   Overweight and obesity are both labels for ranges of weight that are greater than what is generally considered healthy for a given height. The terms also identify ranges of weight that have been shown to increase the likelihood of certain diseases and other health problems.

•   For adults, overweight and obesity ranges are determined by using weight and height to calculate a number called the "body mass index" (BMI). BMI is used because, for most people, it correlates with their amount of body fat.

Calculate Your BMI:

•   Now that you understand how overweight and obesity are defined. It is time to determine where you fit in.
•   An adult who has a BMI between 25 and 29.9 is considered overweight.
•   An adult who has a BMI of 30 or higher is considered obese.
•   Use this link to calculate your BMI

Categories of Weight:

Categories of weight


Action Steps

•   Once you have an idea of the weight range you fall into, it is time to make a plan of action.
•   Get Active
•   Eat Healthy
•   Before starting any exercise program, you should speak with your primary care provider (PCP).
•   If you have any health conditions that require a specific diet speak with your PCP before making changes.

Eat Healthy Important Tips Recipes Additional Tips


Be Active

Exercise Recommendations :

  Adults need at least:
•   2 hours and 30 minutes (150 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity (i.e., brisk walking) every week and muscle-strengthening activities on 2 or more days a week that work all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms).
•   1 hour and 15 minutes (75 minutes) of vigorous- intensity aerobic activity (i.e., jogging or running) every week and muscle- strengthening activities on 2 or more days a week that work all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms).

Spread it Out :

•   10 minutes at a time 150 minutes each week sounds like a lot of time, but you don't have to do it all at once. Not only is it best to spread your activity out during the week, but you can break it up into smaller chunks of time during the day. As long as you're doing your activity at a moderate or vigorous effort for at least 10 minutes at a time.
•  Try going for a 10-minute brisk walk, 3 times a day, 5 days a week. This will give you a total of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity.

Aerobic Activity :

Moderate-intensity Aerobic Activity

Vigorous-intensity Aerobic Activity

Working hard enough to raise your heart rate and break a sweat. One way to tell is that you'll be able to talk, but not sing the words to your favorite song. Here are some examples of activities that require moderate effort:

Breathing hard and fast, and your heart rate has gone up quite a bit. If you're working at this level, you won't be able to say more than a few words without pausing for a breath. Here are some examples of activities that require vigorous effort:

Walking fast Jogging or running
Doing water aerobics Swimming laps
Riding a bike on level ground or with few hills Riding a bike fast or on hills
Playing doubles tennis Playing singles tennis
Pushing a lawn mower Playing basketball

Pedometer :

•   A pedometer senses your body motion and counts your footsteps. This count is converted into distance by knowing the length of your usual stride. Wearing a pedometer and recording your daily steps and distance is a great motivating tool. You can wear a pedometer all day, every day and record total steps. A total of 10,000 steps per day, equivalent to 5miles, is recommended for an active lifestyle.

Get Creative :

Dance Class
Yoga and Pilates

•   Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
•  Walk during your lunch break.
•  Park farther away from your destination.
•  Do jumping jacks during commercials.
•  Turn off the TV and take a brisk walk.
•  Form an exercise group in your community.


One reason that black women give for not exercising is their hair.
However, there are some things you can do to protect your hair when working out.
•   For straightened hair, you can place the hair into a ponytail, and wear a headband around your hairline.
•  For natural hair, you can section the hair, braid it, and cover it with a silk or satin scarf.
•  If you are engaging in water aerobics, you can wrap your hair, cover it with a silk or satin scarf, and use a latex or silicone swim cap.

Eat Healthy

Importance of a Healthy Diet :
•   Eating a nutritious diet is important for maintaining a healthy weight.
•   A healthy diet consists of:
  Fruits and Vegetables
  Lean Protein
  Bread, Grains, Cereal, and Pasta
  Healthy Fats

Fruits and vegetables :
•   Healthy diets rich in fruits and vegetables may reduce the risk of cancer and other chronic diseases.
•   Fruits and vegetables also provide essential vitamins and minerals, fiber, and other substances that are important for good health.
•   2 servings of fruit and 3 servings of vegetables each day
•   Most fruits and vegetables are naturally low in fat and calories and are filling.

Protein :
•   Proteins are part of every cell, tissue, and organ in our bodies. These body proteins are constantly being broken down and replaced. The protein in the foods we eat is digested into amino acids that are later used to replace these proteins in our bodies.
•   Protein is found in the following foods, meats, poultry, and fish; legumes (dry beans and peas) ,tofu, eggs, nuts and seeds, milk and milk products grains, some vegetables, and some fruits (provide only small amounts of protein relative to other sources)

Bread, Grain, Cereal and Pasta :
•   These foods provide complex carbohydrates, which are an important source of energy, especially for a low-fat meal plan. You can make many low-fat choices from foods in this group.
•   Try to eat whole-grain breads, cereal and pasta for most of your servings from this group. Whole-grain foods (which are made with whole wheat flour) are less processed and retain more valuable vitamins, minerals and fiber than foods made with white flour. When you purchase whole-grain foods, look for breads and pastas with "stoneground whole wheat flour" as the first ingredient, because some "wheat" breads may be white breads with only caramel coloring added.
•   One serving of this group can be: 1 slice of bread 1/2 cup of rice, cooked cereal or pasta , 1 cup of ready-to-eat cereal 1 flat tortilla.

Dairy :
•   Products made with milk provide protein and vitamins and minerals, especially calcium.
•   Choose non-fat milk and yogurt and cheeses made from skim milk because they are lowest in fat.
•   2 to 3 servings of dairy each day.
•   One serving equals any of the following: 1 cup low-fat or fat-free milk, 1 cup low-fat yogurt 1 ounces natural cheese ,2 ounces processed cheese 1/3 cup dry milk, cup low-fat cottage cheese

Fats, Oils, and Sweets :
•   Fats, oils, and sweets supply calories, but little in the way of nutrients.
•  These foods include foods that are mostly fat or sugar, such as oils, salad dressings, cream, butter, gravy, margarine, cream cheese, soft drinks, candy jams, gelatins, and fruit drinks.
•   These foods should be eaten sparingly.

Quick Guide: Daily Servings :
•   2 servings of fruit
•   3 to 5 servings of vegetables
•   2 to 3 servings of protein
•   6 to 11 servings of breads, grains, pastas, and cereal
•   2 to 3 servings of Dairy
•   Use sparingly, fats and sweets.

Soul Food Pyramid :
soul food pyramid

Fiber :
•   The human body requires at least 25-35 grams of soluble and insoluble fiber every day. Without that fiber, the digestive tract will become diseased.
•   Great sources are whole fruits and vegetables, whole grain breads and breakfast cereals, and beans.
•   Fiber supports weight loss.
•   Daily fiber can prevent many forms of cancer and coronary artery disease.

Water :
•   Lack of water can lead to dehydration, a condition that occurs when you don't have enough water in your body to carry out normal functions.
•   Every system in your body depends on water.
•   Women should consume 6 to 9 glasses of water each day.

Important Tools

Portion Size :
portion size

Calories :
•   A calorie is a unit of energy. When you hear something contains 100 calories, it's a way of describing how much energy your body could get from eating or drinking it.
•   Your body needs calories for energy. But eating too many calories and not burning enough of them through activity can lead to weight gain.
•   One pound of body fat equals 3,500 calories. Therefore, to drop 1 pound per week, you must create a deficit of 3,500 calories over the course of seven days.

•   You can use a calorie calculator to determine how many calories you need each day.

Nutrition Label:
  Reading food labels will help you to make the best choices for your diet.
  1. Check serving size. The serving size influences the number of calories and other nutrients.
  2. Check calories. The number of calories you consume will help you to manage your weight.
  3. Limit Total Fat, Cholesterol, and Sodium.
  4. Get enough dietary fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, and iron . Eating these nutrients can improve your health and help reduce the risk of some diseases and conditions
  5. The footnote in the lower portion of the nutrition label informs you of the percent daily values (% DVs) of the product, based on a 2,000 calorie diet.
  6. The % Daily Values (%DVs), helps you determine if a serving of food is high or low in a nutrient. 5%DV or less is low and 20% DV or more is high.

Stress Eating :
•   Oftentimes when women are stressed or bored, they may choose to eat unhealthy foods or comfort foods.
•  It is important at these times to learn your triggers and use healthy coping strategies.
•   When you are feeling stress, instead of eating you can:
  Go for a walk
  Practice deep breathing
  Write in a journal


Chicken Soup with Mustard Greens and Tomatoes :
recipe 1

Chicken with Peach Glaze :

Rich and Creamy Mac and Cheese :

Grilled Cajun Style Tilapia with Veggie Tartar Sauce :

Collard Greens :

Collard Greens with Smoked Turkey :

Pineapple Upside-Down Cake :

Additional Tips

•   Now is the time to take charge of your health and your life!
•   Get Moving
  Moderate to Vigorous Physical Activity at Least 30 minutes a day 5 days a week
  2 Days of Weight Training
•   Improve Your Diet
  Eat 5 Servings of fruits and vegetables, each day, whole grains, lean protein, small portions, and drink plenty of water.
  Watch your calories and read your labels.

•   You can do this, and we are here to help you along the way!

Eat Healthy! Be Active! Resources



Nutrition Tools

Interactive Menu Planner

Mayo Clinic Calorie Calculator

Food Diary

Tips for Eating in Restaurants

Guide to Supermarket Shopping

Nutrition Guidelines

Vegetarian Diet


Physical Activity Tools

Exercise Tips and Exercise Log

Nutrition and Physical Activity Interactive Online Community

Cardio Tips

Strength Training Tips

Eat Healthy! Be Active!
Portal Author and Contact Information

This website portal was created by the following team:
•  Researcher/Writer: Naa-Solo Tettey, MA, MPH, CHES, Pre-Doctoral Fellow with the Research Group on Health Disparities, Doctoral Candidate, Department of Health and Behavior Studies, Teachers College, Columbia University, NY, NY
•  Editor: Barbara C. Wallace, Ph.D., Professor of Health Education, Director of the Research Group on Disparities in Health, Director of Global HELP – Health and Education Leadership Program, Department of Health and Behavior Studies, Teachers College, Columbia University, NY, NY
•  Website Idea Concept: Donna Bacon, Ed.D.
•  Webmaster: Rupananda Misra, Ed.D.
Website Portal Contact Person:

Eat Healthy! Be Active!
Portal Content: References



American Heart Association. (2009). Healthy soul food. Retrieved on December 20, 2009 from:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2009). Defining overweight and obesity.  Retrieved on   December 19, 2009 from:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2009). Physical activity for everyone.  Retrieved on   December 20, 2009 from:

Kids Health. (2009).  Learning about calories.  Retrieved on December 20, 2009 from:

President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports. (2009). Walking works.   Retrieved on December   19, 2009 from:

U.S. Food and Drug Administration. (2009). How to understand and use the nutrition facts label.   Retrieved on December 19, 2009 from:

U.S. Department of Agriculture. (2009). Inside the food pyramid. Retrieved on December 19, 2009 from:


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