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The Arts and Medicine
October 22/29, 2019

Heavy Hunger—Managing Weight and Obesity in Black American Communities

Author Affiliations
  • 1Division of Preventive Medicine, Department of Medicine, UAB School of Medicine, Birmingham, Alabama
JAMA. 2019;322(16):1534-1536. doi:10.1001/jama.2019.15184

Eat less, move more. Calories in less than calories out. Both are infallibly logical approaches to weight management that should guarantee weight loss but fail many patients. Science—microbiome metabolism and carbohydrate-insulin models—proposes some reasons why. Two recent memoirs from black American authors offer a different view. Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body, by Roxane Gay (HarperCollins, 2017), and Heavy: An American Memoir, by Kiese Laymon (Scribner, 2018) provide important accounts of the origins and meanings of weight for some patients and the forces of history and culture some face in managing their body size.

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    1 Comment for this article
    Community Solution
    Marsha Epstein, MD MPH | Retired
    For physicians and patients looking for another solution to eating disorders and weight management, Overeaters Anonymous-HOW and Compulsive Eaters Anonymous-HOW are under-recognized 12-Step Programs which are effective for some and essentially free for patients. They meet in a church or other location and pass the hat to cover minimal expenses.