I’m proud of actor Quinton Aaron for making a personal pledge to lose weight after he was kicked off a US Airways flight for taking up too much space on the airplane. Aaron, who portrayed NFL star Michael Oher in the movie, The Blind Side said being asked to leave the aircraft because he was too large was a humiliating experience, but it also served as a wake-up call to address his health.
“I just grabbed my bag and just got off as quick as possible because it was embarrassing,” said Aaron, 29, who stands 6 feet 8 inches tall and weighs 500 pounds.
Arron said he usually travels first class, but on a connecting flight between Philadelphia and Rochester, N.Y., there weren’t any first class seats available, so he needed two economy seats.
“As I saw the seats, I’m literally hoping that no one had to sit next to me because I knew it wasn’t going to work if they did,” he said.
But another passenger showed up and could not squeeze past Aaron’s girth so Aaron had to be re-booked on another flight. There’s no doubt that Aaron needs to lose weight. Shedding some much needed pounds could also help Aaron secure more high-profile movie roles. After all, Aaron can’t make an entire career portraying chunky football players. The 500 pounds he is carrying is not only a problem when he travels, but it’s dangerous to his health.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, African Americans are 1.5 times as likely to be obese as whites; deaths from heart disease and stroke are almost twice the rate for African Americans as compared to whites as a result of obesity and other illnesses; and people who are overweight are more likely to suffer from high blood pressure, high levels of blood fats, and LDL cholesterol.
In 2012, Aaron started The Quinton Aaron Foundation to raise awareness about childhood obesity and bullying.
“Not everyone has had the luxury of growing up knowing the right foods to eat or knowing what a healthier lifestyle is,” Aaron told reporters.
Doctors agree that some foods in African-American culture are harmful. Soul food, cooked with lots of fat, sugar and unhealthy amounts of salt only contributes to health problems. Fried chicken, fried fish, macaroni and cheese, and candied yams are among other popular soul foods that contribute to obesity.
Meanwhile, for Aaron, being asked to leave the airplane because he is obese was humiliating, but at least the incident moved him to action. And that’s what really matters.