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How obesity plagues Black New Yorkers

For nearly two decades, I have stood at the pulpit, looking out on the vibrant and resilient people of New York. I’ve witnessed my community in their highest moments of joy and their lowest moments suffering. Today, I see a deadly disease spreading rapidly and covertly among my congregation, among communities across New York, and across the country. Obesity is threatening our prosperity and I’m praying we can turn the tide.

Nearly one in three Americans and more than 4.7 million New Yorkers are living with overweight or obesity. But Black and Brown people are bearing the brunt: Nearly half of Black Americans and 44.8% of Hispanic Americans are living with obesity. New York is no exception — Black New Yorkers have the highest rate of obesity compared with their white and Hispanic counterparts. With more than 200 serious conditions linked to obesity, including heart disease, stroke, and diabetes, obesity is the second leading cause of preventable death in the United States. This silent killer is among the most dire health threats to communities of color nationwide.

In the late 2000s, I saw HIV/AIDS rob countless Black and Brown Americans of their lives far too early. I refuse to let the same thing happen today with obesity, which is why I’m preaching to our elected leaders and imploring them to take action now. Just like I took to the podium then, I’m doing so again as a voice for Empire Baptist Missionary Convention of New York, Inc., which includes nine regions and 500 churches in predominantly racial minority communities, as well as for the Black and Brown communities nationwide in need of help.

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