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Can Being Heavy Ever be Healthy?

By on June 17, 2013

Over the last few years we’ve witnessed the sudden deaths or hospitalizations of Patrice O’Neal, Heavy D, and even Tracy Morgan. The heavy hitting entertainers succumbed to weight and other health issues. If you are a comedy fan, you know Patrice O’Neal was riding a wave of positive press in the wake of his performance at Charlie Sheen’s roast, and was reportedly recovering from a stroke when he died.

This was the same collective gasp we heard when Legendary Rapper/Producer Heavy D, passed away, also in October 2011.  Then, of course, there was Rapper/Producer Big Pun and before that, Comedian Robin Harris. And actor, comedian Tracy Morgan was rushed to the hospital at a film even with diabetic complications, related to weight. Ironically, thicker celebrities like singer and actress Jennifer Hudson, rapper Fat Joe, and Monique are shedding the excess weight.  

Recognize the pattern?  It’s not just that all of these men are black. All of them were or are overweight by medical standards.

O’Neal was 6’4 and 300 pounds. Heavy D, 44, was about the same height and weighed in at 344, although he shed about 150 pounds since 2008. Harris, who passed away at age 36 in 1990, was well over 200 pounds, which for his height (said to be 5’8) was considering obese.  But the most notable –for all the wrong reasons– was Big Pun, who tipped that scale at more than 700 pounds and died of a heart attack in 2000. He was 28.


In recent years, the self-proclaimed “overweight lover” was taking an interest in his health, hence the afore-mentioned weight loss. Others didn’t follow the same path. Harris frequently joked about his weight in his standup as did O’Neal who recently quibbed “I’ve got to lose weight now to stay alive, and that’s not enough motivation for me.” It’s that kind of cavalier attitude about health, weight and fitness that is killing people of color.

 A few weeks ago, my inaugural column focused on weight and health. I not only documented my own struggles, but I featured several fitness plans that combined exercise and balance diet with which I found success. I didn’t do this to pat myself on the back;  I did it to show that with hard work and determination, we could turn around this deadly trend of bad diet. Still, many blacks (celebs and non-celebs alike) often revel in their rotundity and excess consumption often to their detriment and sadly, even their death.

Get healthier now. You can do it!  

Dave Jordan is a Emmy nominated journalist in New Orleans, LA. When not chasing down stories, Dave enjoys spending time in the French Quarter, his hometown of NYC and visiting relatives in the Caribbean. This article edited, originally published in December 2011.


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