Cultural Beliefs, Views on Diet, Exercise Affect Black Women’s Weight-Loss Efforts, Health
Cultural factors related to diet, exercise and weight can hamper black women's ability to lose weight and also contribute to increased health risks, according to the American Obesity Association, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. Seventy-eight percent of black women in the U.S. are overweight and 50.8% of those are considered obese, according to the association. According to CDC, black women have higher rates of diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, cancer and premature death -- conditions often linked to being overweight. Black women also often have more severe cases of the conditions than white women. There is "less pressure for blacks to lose weight because of a cultural acceptance of higher body weight and heavier body shapes," according to womenshealth.gov. In addition, experts say that black women avoid exercising to lose weight because they want to "[f]it in with their social circle"; prevent their hair from being damaged by heat and sweat; appeal to black men who "tell them not to lose weight"; and eat unhealthy foods or portions, according to the Post-Dispatch. To address the issue, experts recommend that black women work out in groups and change their eating and cooking habits. Andrea Riggs, a fitness expert in St. Louis, said, "What we're fighting are choices. We don't want to be thin; and the barriers that keep African-American women from working out [are] silly stuff. ... We all want to look good, but to sacrifice your health doesn't make sense," adding, "It's not about being thin; it's about health" (Jackson, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 2/26).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.