Do Black Girls Get Less Out of Exercising? (Review of Jezebel/MSNBC Article)

New research discussed in articles posted on [1] and on [2] 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!*** 



About ChicFitChef

My "deserted island" checklist: a BCBG dress, a healthy & diabetic-friendly meal and a few workout DVDs. ;-)
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3 Responses to Do Black Girls Get Less Out of Exercising? (Review of Jezebel/MSNBC Article)

  1. jfgemini says:

    You’re right , there is no one size fit all approach to fitness . I just find that these new gloom and doom studies on blacks , are counter productive to what we’re trying to address. It’s already a chore convincing people that need to, that it’s essential for then to work out. Here comes this article saying that they’ll need to work much harder than the “others”. How encouraging is that? Earlier in the year , there were the articles about black women and relationships (date outside your race, all black men are in jail or under-educated/employed, of course I am exaggerating a tad) . I wonder what’s next on the agenda ?

    • ChicFitChef says:

      I couldn’t agree more! The “one-size-fits-all” argument has been clear for a long time- I think this study does more to discourage than encourage! -CFC

  2. Zenith says:

    Did the study look at the effects of exercise (or lack thereof) on the cardiovascular system and rates of diabetes?? Or was obesity the only parameter used to measure the benefit of exercise??
    I do not believe for one minute that somehow black females fail to get the same results (or similar) on these body systems as the rest of the human population.
    I am concerned about the implications of this study- being irresponsible enough to create another excuse for some of us not to exercise, eat healthfully and strive for excellent health in a personally responsible fashion.

    I will continue to exercise H A R D. Don’t care what these ‘studies’ say. I see the results of not doing so every day in my line of work and I will have no parts of it. MY choice.

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