Out of the 85 million people who have been diagnosed with diabetes, the African-American community has been hit particularly hard. Dr. Oz says the biggest reason is lack of access to affordable, healthy food. "The cheapest calories in America are the calories with no nutrients," Dr. Oz says. "So especially among the young, in their neighborhoods they can't get the foods they need to be able to eat, and the foods they need are expensive. The Hispanic [population is] very hard hit for the same reason."
Dr. Ian Smith, the medical and diet expert behind the 50 Million Pound Challenge, says the obesity epidemic has spiraled out of control. African Americans are twice as likely to have type 2 diabetes, develop end-stage kidney disease, have amputations and die from the disease. "African-Americans are facing an obesity crisis," he says. "It's literally killing us."
Dr. Smith says part of the problem lies with bad habits. "Habits are tough to break, especially for African-Americans when their habits are around food, which is like a culture for them," he says. "Food is love and comfort."
Another major battle is attitudes toward eating and exercising. "Transgenerationally, we've eaten this way, and African-Americans take this 'heels in the ground' approach," he says. "This is a disease often about attitude, and attitude has a lot to be desired right now. We have to improve our attitudes about it."