Oft-Assumed Reasons for Racial Obesity Disparities May Not Be Only Cause, Study Says

Nicole Wyatt, Medical Xpress, April 17, 2014

Racial disparities in obesity rates among the third of U.S. adults considered obese are often blamed on socioeconomic status because of its influence on diet and physical activity, but new findings from the University of Alabama at Birmingham published in Obesity suggest otherwise—particularly for women.


Bisakha Sen, Ph.D., associate professor of health care policy at UAB, used health behavior data for whites and blacks from Alabama and Mississippi taken from the national Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System and took a method used in economics to analyze gender wage disparities. Her team applied the Oaxaca-Blinder decomposition to health disparities to determine how much they could be explained by differences in factors like socioeconomic status, diet and physical activity levels.

“Data show that African-Americans have higher body mass indexes than do whites, and as a group, they have lower income and education levels, consume less fruits and vegetables, and work out less,” Sen said. “The method we used allowed us to create a hypothetical world where these measured things are, on average, exactly the same for blacks as they are for whites, letting us analyze these factors’ effect on obesity disparities.”

Sen says their method shows that, when the variable disparities are taken away, the BMI for black men would actually be similar to that of white men, so these variables do explain disparities in obesity levels among men.

Sen was surprised, though, that more similar findings were not present in women. Without the variable disparities in women, only 10 percent of the differences in white and black females could be explained.

“It’s pretty well-known that disparities in obesity are more in women than in men, but I thought surely we would get rid of 50 percent of the disparity, not just 10,” Sen said. “So while we think we know what matters—socioeconomic status, fruit and vegetable intake, physical activity level—these actually matter very little in explaining racial disparities among women.”

Without the typically assumed variables as the cause of obesity disparities in women, Sen says other factors like culture or genetics could be to blame, but more scientific studies are needed.


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  • MekongDelta69

    It’s RACISM and SEXISM screams Mzzzzz. Bisakha Sen (typical all-American name – right?!)

    • APaige

      The U.S is so racist that it allows poor Black people to be fat…wait…hmmm…a racist nation would not allow lazy unproductive people to be fat.

  • BonV.Vant

    While driving today, I spotted a person walking in the distance. By the slow gait and the hunched over, shuffling posture I assumed it was a black person. No, it was an elderly white person. The mitochondria of young people are undamaged, but by old age they are greatly compromised. I think blacks have mitochondria that are fundamentally different than the mitochondria of whites. There was another article a few weeks ago which stated that blacks do not metabolize fats as well as whites do. That is another indication of a fundamental difference in mitochondria. Mitochondria have their own DNA, it is not part of the cells nuclear DNA. Mixing with blacks is dangerous as it introduces this line of mitochondria into the white population as well as mixing a more hardy line of mitochondria into the black population.

    • Bossman

      Blacks do in fact metabolize sugars and fats better and faster than whites. That is why they are the world’s best sprinters. Black women are indeed more curvacious but that may be a result of thousand of years of sexual selection by black men for those kinds of women.

      • Strike_Team

        Blacks and indios and mestizos have a harder time metabolizing processed foods than do whites and Asians. They also have a harder time with some forms of sugars, hence the problems with diabetes and obesity. There are all manner of difference between the races. That’s true.

        Blacks are the best sprinters overall because of the make-up of their muscle tissue. There are two types of fast twitch fibers, and blacks of West African origin tend to have an over-abundance of the fast twitch fibers geared for “speed” in terms of contraction for running and so on. Whites and Asians tend to have more of the fast twitch fibers dedicated to strength. Hence what we saw at the 2012 Olympics for example; Blacks winning most of the sprint medals, and whites and some Asians winning all of the weightlifting medals. For all the talk about blacks dominating sprints, whites dominate strength events to an even higher degree.

        • Bossman

          The last time that I read about this, it said that Blacks can run faster because not only do they have more muscles in their lower anatomy but they can metabolize sugars and fats faster to produce a quick burst of energy.

          • Fathercoughlin

            Well it helps when your carrying that TV set lol

          • BonV.Vant

            I think Philippe Rushton gave the definitive answer on this issue. IT is the mechanics of the skeleton that make the biggest difference. Even if an individual had superior metabolism, if their skeletal mechanics were poor then they would spend much energy in an inefficient manner. With superior mechanics ( superior for running), even a poor metabolism could have an advantage.

      • De’Ontavious Jizzaiah Jones

        In the late 80s the Smithsonian museum, I think natural history, had a display on African women of Hottentot tribe who are known for huge backsides. The display explained sexual selection for females with the biggest butts and was accompanied by photos of hottentot women with huge asses. At the time I wondered how it was that blacks did not protest the exhibit as racist. Then I concluded it was because black adults never visited the Smithsonian and so never saw the exhibit. White people like museums. Do any of you recall this exhibit?

        • gemjunior

          Oh boy they hate that Hottentot tribe information becoming well -known. I think the main reason is not anything to do with the buttocks but their frontal genital anatomy. Look up “Hottentot Apron” for a look at what these ladies have in their genitalia, hanging down like an apron. The giant butt is the least of their worries and they don’t want anybody thinking that regular African women have it. I don’t ever recall seeing anything that was as dramatic as that but I have seen a good few in my professional career and as in all features, compared to white females it is almost always the case that black females have an anatomy that is usually equal but more dramatic, bluntly marked features when compared to finer, lesser white female.

          • De’Ontavious Jizzaiah Jones

            !!!!!!!! Elongated labia……the articles I just perused attributed it to a body modification done to stretch the labia, akin to plates in lips and the neck stretching done by other African tribes.

          • gemjunior

            No I think it looks that way from a genetic deformity. How could that happen, come on. It’s an entire part of the body that’s dangling where it shouldn’t be. I don’t think it would be possible to stretch something like that which is not elastic or muscular. God, it’s bad enough that they have that but to make it worse on purpose? I want to throw up. I read a blog on it written by a black girl called “Lippy Girl” (LMAO) and she was like a typical black woman, carrying on about how natural it his to have a horse size body part which should equal the size of a pea, and how great it is to be a big black mama, how proud she is of her sisters and her mothers who started civilization and the usual claptrap. I am going to look into it further just out of curiosity.
            Another strange mutation is in Africans with feet shaped like a V. The other tribes call them “ostrich feet” because their feet look like a bird’s. Like the Vulcan hand salute only in a feet version. Quite disgusting and peculiar, but of course entirely pride-inducing like all things African. Even thinking about anything to do with black or African makes them immediately so proud they need to announce their pride all over the place. Of course, it’s a genetic mutation and deformity.

      • Fathercoughlin

        Sexual selection…by black males?? Arent these the guys that have sex with puppies? And their own mothers??

        • gemjunior

          Don’t forget the goats too! The ones that bewitch them and are then imprisoned for complicity in the stealing of genitals, my dear Padre.

      • alwaysright21

        sheboons are fat diseased and stink.

  • Anon

    Whenever you see the words, obesity and Body Mass Index in a study, you know a whole bunch of lies, BS and misinformation is about to be presented. BMI is an index that was discredited as worthless long ago. Anyone who knows even the basics about this issue knows that the correct measure is body fat percentage. And quite frankly, in today’s world, where you can stroll into any Walmart and buy a 90%+ accurate impedance scale for $10, there is simply no excuse. BMI says nothing about anything and is based on little more than stupidity and ignorance about the whole issue. If you want to know how “fat” someone is, measure it directly.

    • The BMI was developed in the early 1800s and is simply mass (in kilograms) divided by height (in meters) squared. Because height is squared, rather than cubed, the BMI number ignores scaling laws for solid objects. It also doesn’t even begin to address the percentage of a person’s weight that is actually fat, rather than muscle and bone. BMI is thus a meaningless number, and I suspect the reason for its long-term use was that it was easy to calculate.

  • Rhialto

    One more racial disparity that demonstrates that Caucasians and Africans have evolved to survive in different environments. In Africa, food supplies are much less predictable. So for women, more body fat is usually a reproductive advantage; in temperate climates not so much. Therefore there was evolutionary pressure on women to be fatter, and men to father children via the fatties.

  • Once again a faux “study” by – you guessed it, a black “academic” – explains that blacks are not responsible for themselves. How many times have we heard this? If blacks are really as incompetent as these studies purport to show, they need to be forbidden to vote, drive motor vehicles, operate machinery and power tools, or own real property. It would be for their own good.

    • IstvanIN

      8 year old children are held more accountable for their actions than 30 year old blacks.

  • Who Me?

    Hmmm, black women are getting fatter. Oh lawdy, we gotta do a study and spent $30 Million to find out why.
    Meanwhile the average lifespan of White women is actually shrinking….. crickets…..

  • JackKrak

    “…other factors like culture or genetics COULD be to blame.” (emphasis mine)

    Just goes to show – once again – how stupid you have to be to get a Ph.D. and “work” in academia.

    When considering the possible reasons for different rates of obesity in different racial groups, I’m pretty sure most high school dropouts might think about genetically encoded differences before they made it all the way down the list to “gender wage disparities”.

    But that’s just me.

  • Bossman

    I went to the link that you provided. It doesn’t say anything about that. Am I missing something? Blacks sweat more and their bodies produce more heat energy.

  • saxonsun

    And because the sun is right on time that is how we know God’s a white female.

  • Simonetta

    The reason why we have so many ‘ghetto-potmases’ (wildly obese black women) in America is because during the 200+ years of slave trading, the local African chiefs would always make sure that the loudest, fattest, stupidest, meanest, most repulsive women in their tribe were the first people that slave traders would catch and take far, far away. Plus the fact that most of all that fat melted off during the ‘horrific’ two-month-long middle passage so that by the time that they were being sold, they’d stand up on the auction block looking like Beyonce. But a year later, it was back to being 400 pounds of black hell-on-wheels.

  • PvtCharlieSlate

    Curvacious? Convex, actually.

  • alwaysright21

    More scientific studies $ are needed says Bisocka Dem Gibs the fake phd sheboon. apefurmative blackshun nigresses like this need their “gibs me dat $” cut off.

    • EyemNotFree

      Your KKK sheets are recycled polyester. Jesus’ daddy was a PEDO

  • Strike_Team

    There are skeletal differences, but their muscle tissue is different. As is the enzyme release during contraction. Blacks (of West African origin) release up to three times the level of certain enzymes during muscle contraction than whites or Asians, hence the advantage in sprinting – and their quickness in becoming fatigued in comparison to whites or Asians. Rushton also went too far sometimes to present Asians as superior to whites in certain ways to try and keep himself from looking like a supremacist (Lord knows why, “they” hated him anyway). As for sports, he would never get all the details, he would grab something that sounded correct and run with it. In his main book, he stated that no whites would or could win distance races, that blacks would win every distance race at the ’92 Olympics. Which was wrong. Whites won the 1500 meters amd the 5000 meters, a Moroccan won the 10,000 meters, and a Korean won the marathon. I liked Rushton, but he never did any deep research into sports.

  • Mike

    Maybe it has to do with living in a radically colder climate than they evolved in.