Black Women Love Their Curves

A new study shows that overweight African-American women suffer less stigmas than their white counterparts.

Posted: 12/09/2011 09:29 AM EST
Filed Under obesity, Health News

Obesity, health, African American women, stigmatized

It’s a well-established fact now that African-Americans suffer with obesity at rates far greater than other Americans. According to the U.S. Office of Minority Health, in 2009 Blacks were 1.5 times as likely to be overweight or obese than whites. And for women, the statistics are even more troublesome: African-American women are 60 percent more likely to be obese than their white counterparts. About four out of five African-American females are now either overweight or obese.


That’s the bad news. Now some good news: Despite the fact that they’re overweight, Black women deal with their size much better than others, according to a new study, and that may be good for their mental well being:


While all obese women are less satisfied with the weight-related quality of their lives than women of "normal" weight, Black women report a higher quality of life than white women of the same weight. In addition, Black women appear to be more concerned about the physical limitations resulting from their obesity, than by the potential psychological consequences of being overweight or obese.


Theories abound as to why African-Americans, particularly women, are so overweight, including everything from poor health care and little access to healthy foods. But what this study says is that at least African-American women who are overweight aren’t also suffering mental anguish and self-esteem issues.


Compulsive overeating is a problem linked to depression. And according to a study from 2010, obesity and depression feed each other: “People who are obese are at increased risk of becoming depressed, and people who are depressed are at increased risk of becoming obese,” wrote Reuters. In other words, if an obese person feels bad about herself, it’s more difficult for her to lose weight, which in turn leads to more bouts of depression.


That Black women who are overweight are able to beat back some of that self-loathing is good news, because overcoming the mental blocks that make you believe your lot is hopeless is the first step to losing the weight. And Black celebrities like Boris Kodjoe, who recently went on an out-of-touch Twitter rant about Black female obesity, aren’t doing anything to help the situation. These women have positive self-worth, and it’s not only wrong to insult them, it’s the exact opposite thing people should be doing if they want to truly help people lose weight.


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(Photo: Jose Luis Pelaez Inc/GettyImages)

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