All Articles Tagged "Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine"
Exercise, exercise, exercise is all you hear directed at black women these days in response to a slew of reports pointing out the obesity epidemic plaguing our demographic. But now all of a sudden, a pair of British researchers have published a paper in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, saying black girls and women don’t benefit from working out as much as white ones do.
According to the paper, for black adolescent girls, who were most physically active at age 12, by age 14, obesity was nearly as likely as it was for those whose activity rates were far lower. For white girls though, their risk of becoming obese nearly disappeared. This was true even when caloric intake was the same between the two groups.
The authors used data from a government health study database of 1,148 adolescents who were followed for several years. Just under half, 538, identified themselves as African American. The researchers believe a significant metabolic disadvantage is at play for African American girls hoping to maintain a healthy weight, concluding that “obesity-prevention interventions may need to be adapted to account for the finding that black girls are less sensitive to the effects of physical activity” than their white counterparts. The study is said to fall in line with other research that has found black women oxidize fat more slowly in response to exercise, and that their resting metabolic rates are lower than those of white women.
Before taking this study at face value, I think it’s important to point out that BMI and two other obesity measures (a measure of body fat adopted by the International Obesity Task Force and a gauge of skin-fold thickness) were the parameters used to determine that 12-year-old black girls in the top half of the physical activity continuum were only 15% less likely to be obese by age 14 than ones in the lower half. For white girls, those in the upper half were 85% less likely to become obese over the next two years than were those in the bottom half. BMI has long been a controversial indicator of health and obesity for black women so it’s important to take this finding with a grain of salt, realizing that exercise is in fact still beneficial for black women and that BMI is not the only measure of it’s positive effects on your overall health.
Linda Bacon, an associate nutritionist with UC Davis is very critical of the nation’s focus on reducing obesity, and she says activists need to focus on healthy lifestyles and not on BMI.
“We should just be encouraging activity for the sake of activity and good health. If we encourage it as a weight management technique, when it doesn’t work for that, people won’t see the value in it.”
Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.
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