NEW YORK, Nov. 10 — African-Americans are killing themselves, slowly, and quietly, little by little, every day and the killer is not likely to grab headlines or to bloody the streets. The murderous weapon is food, and many African-Americans are, quite simply, eating themselves to death. African-Americans are more overweight and obese than any other racial group and at risk for developing heart disease, diabetes, stroke, hypertension, and certain types of cancer.
On Sunday, November 15 at 10:00 p.m.* BET News and Star Jones take viewers straight to one of the cities carrying the heaviest burden of this epidemic — Jackson, Mississippi — with a one-hour news special, HEART OF THE CITY: DYING TO EAT IN JACKSON.
“I used to be scared to step out there on the issue of Obesity but I realized that I wasn’t being fair because I have a public platform and I need to use it for good,” said Star Jones, host of HEART OF THE CITY: DYING TO EAT IN JACKSON. “I am not the ‘poster child’ for a specific weight loss method but I am a true advocate for adopting a healthy lifestyle because with all humility, doing so has saved my life.”
Home to the U.S.’s largest population of African-Americans, the magnolia state annually weighs in as America’s fattest state. The state’s capitol has been called the canary in the coalmine for what awaits Black America should the obesity issue continue to go unchecked. The prevalence of obesity among African Americans in Mississippi is even greater than the national average for African-Americans, especially among Black women. And more alarming, increasing numbers of African-American children in the state are being diagnosed with obesity-related illnesses that in the past had been only found in adults.
“Obesity is a critical issue in our community that has not received the attention it deserves,” says Keith Brown, Senior Vice President of BET News and Public Affairs. “It was important for us to focus not only on the problem, but also on the inspiring stories of people taking control of their lives and making positive change in their communities.”
HEART OF THE CITY: DYING TO EAT IN JACKSON reveals a perfect storm of socio-economic, cultural, environmental elements and individual lifestyle choices that have caused so many of Jackson’s citizens to become obese. Almost one of every three Mississippians has a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or greater — the dividing line between being overweight and being obese. However, even in the face of these grim statistics there is hope. The efforts of those who determined to shrug off their city’s dubious distinction are leading Jackson in a new direction to trim the fat.
Through the use of personal accounts, compelling packages, startling statistics and open dialogue between the community at risk and expert guests, HEART OF THE CITY: DYING TO EAT IN JACKSON will lay out all the facts surrounding obesity in Black America. Dr. David Satcher, Satcher Health Leadership Institute, Morehouse School of Medicine; Dr. Aaron Shirley, Jackson Medical Mall Foundation; Dr. Timothy Quinn, Mississippi family physician; Barbara Broadwater and Rita Redd from Mississippi Against Obesity Foundation are among the guest experts who will shed light on the growing problem.