Columnist Examines Weight Loss Study Comparing Black Women From U.S., NigeriaWashington Examiner nutrition columnist Mark Sisson on Wednesday examined a recent study looking at the effect of diet and exercise on weight among black women. For the study, which was published in the journal Obesity, researchers led by the Loyola University Health System compared the weight, activity levels and diets of a group of black women living in Chicago with a group of women living in rural Nigeria. The average weight of women in the Chicago group was 184 pounds and women in the Nigeria group weighed 124 pounds on average.
According to Sisson, the "researchers found no discernable difference in calories burned due to physical activity between the two groups of women," but an analysis of their diets concluded that "diet is a more likely explanation for why women in the Chicago cohort weigh more than their Nigerian counterparts." The Nigerian women typically followed a diet rich in fiber and carbohydrates; the Chicago women, however, had diets that were high in fat and processed foods, according to Sisson. Researchers suggested that diet might be more important than exercise when it comes to weight loss, according to Sisson. Researchers also said that weight loss might not be as easy without dietary changes.
He writes, "While these findings are certainly interesting," it is "important to remember that exercise has more benefits than a smaller number on the scale," such as lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, improved mental health and mood, and a reduced risk of several chronic conditions. He concludes that the "key to good health is to follow a nutritious diet and hit the gym on a regular basis" (Sisson, Washington Examiner, 1/14). This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.