New research discussed in articles posted on Jezebel.com  and on MSNBC.com  suggest that exercise may have less of an impact in preventing obesity in adolescent black girls as compared to their white counterparts.
In 1985, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) conducted a study of over 1,000 white and black girls in Ohio, California and Maryland starting when the girls were 9- or 10-years old. The data from this study was recently re-analyzed by researchers looking at the weight, height, exercise and eating habits of these girls when they were ages 12 and then again when they reached 14 (presumably after the onset of puberty).
The results of this new study found that -even when diet, height, puberty onset and demographics were controlled for- increased exercise in white girls reduced the likelihood of their becoming obese by age 14 (the most active white girls were 85% less likely to be obese) but there was no similar statistical connection for black girls. (I will note that neither article gives the percentage for how much exercise lessened the chances of obesity in active black girls -I may have to get my hands on the study to look this up- please comment below if you find some new info!). Some explanations offered up for this disparity include differences in how black girls’ bodies breakdown fat, metabolic rates and even genetics.
The bottom line is that the study suggests that exercise may not have as great of an impact on the bodies of black girls than white girls. It also suggests that if black girls do exercise, they may need to exercise more often and/or more intensely to get the same benefits as their white counterparts do.
I’m still forming an opinion on the study, but I found the results of the study to be unsettling to say the least! On the one hand, the impression you could get from the study could be that a “one-size-fits-all” approach to diet and healthy lifestyle just doesn’t work for all races. But on the other hand, the article seems to suggests that black girls are somehow predisposed to being obese –and you know how I feel about the term “obese”– which could discourage black girls/women trying to be healthier. There are layers upon layers of issues here, but it would seem to me that the findings of this study need to be explored further before any conclusions are reached. -CFC
***What do you think about the findings of the study? If there are in fact biological factors that pre-dispose black girls to being obese, what if anything should be done to combat this problem? Sound off!***