Study: Black women must work harder to lose weight

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A new study has been released stating that black women have to work harder than white women in order to lose weight. The findings of researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine were published in the International Journal of Obesity last week. Study authors found that, when monitoring diet and exercise levels and finding them equal, black women lost less weight than their white counterparts.

Previous studies have delivered similar findings, but researches have previously hypothesized that the differing amounts of weight loss were the result of black women in actuality eating more than they reported.

“At first, it was thought that perhaps the African-American women didn’t adhere as closely to their calorie prescriptions or that the interventions were not culturally sensitive,” lead investigator, James P. DeLany, Ph.D., said. “But even in research projects that were designed to address those possibilities, the difference in weight loss remained.”

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In this most recent project, which was designed to test whether there might be metabolic reasons for these differences, factors such as body mass index and daily activity levels were all monitored closely.

It was discovered that of the 39 African-American women and 66 white women tested — all of whom were severely obese — black women lost seven pounds less than white women on average, all other factors being equal. It was also found that black women have a lower resting metabolic rate than white women.

What does this mean? Black women might have to work harder than white women to lose the same amount of weight.

“We prescribe how many calories are allowed and how much activity is needed during weight loss interventions based on the premise that people of the same weight have similar metabolic rates,” DeLany said. “But to account for their lower metabolic rate, African-American women must further reduce the number of calories they eat or use up more of them with exercise in order to lose the same number of pounds in the same time span as a Caucasian woman of the same weight.”

Black women being the most overweight group of people in America is a phenomenon that often comes under scrutiny. Usually one of the reasons given for this development is the belief that African-American like being fat, partly because it is more culturally acceptable.

While that may be true to a degree, this line of reasoning sometimes fuels a blanket criticism of these women, who are often judged for being overweight under the assumption that such self-acceptance is lazy and self-destructive.

Studies such as this show that there are other factors involved that are hardly within black women’s control. While not a justification to maintain weight levels that are linked to heart disease, diabetes and other illnesses, hopefully this knowledge will dissipate the negative air with with overweight black women are often assessed.

Follow Alexis Garrett Stodghill on Twitter @lexisb