Do Black Women Truly Benefit From Exercising?

According to research, Black girls are less likely to benefit from exercise than white girls.

By: Taren Vaughan

There is no question that obesity heavily plagues the African American community and has been doing so for several years now. Mindful of the staggering statistics that are documented in medical studies, many Black men and women have made a conscious effort to watch what they eat and incorporate some form of exercise in their daily routines. As changing your eating habits and hitting the gym on a regular basis is said to be a sure fire way to keep those excess pounds away, research has proven that theory to only hold true for some.

In this month’s issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, it was revealed that active black girls at the age of 12 were almost as likely to be obese at age 14 as African American girls who participated in minimal amounts of exercise.

Will things improve as we get older?

Statistics reflect that it may do anything but that.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Minority Health, African American women were 70 percent more likely to suffer from obesity than white women. And the numbers are higher for Black teenage girls, with Black girls being 80 percent more likely to become obese than their white counterparts for a three year span from 2007 to 2010. As if these statistics weren’t already troubling, the research went on to say that 4 out of 5 African Americans were either overweight or obese.

Is there anything that can be done to improve this situation for Black women, better yet the African American community as a whole?

Dr. Russell Jago of the University of Bristol and Dr. James White of Cardiff University offer their suggestions as to how to fix this ongoing problem:

“Our results suggest that prompting adolescent girls to be active may be important to preventing obesity but that using different approaches (e.g. emphasizing reductions in energy intake) may be necessary to prevent obesity in black girls,”

Numbers most definitely don’t lie. And it is no secret that the vast majority of health problems that many of us have are centered on carrying too much weight. One thing is clear from all this…getting an early start in the exercise game is our best chance of fending off obesity.


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