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Calorie Count Blog

Study Shows Black Women Can Be Healthy At Higher Weights


By +Carolyn Richardson on Mar 31, 2011 10:00 AM in Dieting & You

By Carolyn Richardson and Mary Hartley, RD

Black women can carry more weight than white women and still be considered health. That was the finding, reported by Reuters Health, of a 2011 study conducted by Peter T. Katzmarzyk associate executive director for Population Science and his colleagues at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center.  Katzmarzyk's group calculated the Body Mass Indexes (BMIs) and measured the waist circumferences of over 6,000 men and women of all races to look for the threshold at which weight becomes significantly associated with disease.

According to the National Institutes of Health's Clinical Guidelines on the Identification, Evaluation and Treatment of Overweight and Obesity in Adults, a BMI of 30 or higher is linked to more cases of high cholesterol, diabetes and high blood pressure.  But Katzmarzyk found that the cut-off does not seem to hold true for black women. While there was no racial difference for men, Katzmarzyk showed that, for black women, the risk didn’t increase until they reached a BMI of 33.  For example, for a 5'5" tall woman, the statistical risk for disease would increase at 180 pounds if she was white but at 198 pounds if she was black.  A black woman can be healthy with a bigger waistline as well, according to the study.  Dr. Katamarzyk thought a possible reason for the contrast might be the difference in the way body fat is distributed in women among the races. Men and women of other races were not included in this study.

Black Women and Obesity

Regardless of the cut-off point, obesity is still a problem in the black community The National Center for Health Statistics reported that, “As a group, African American women have the highest percentage of overweight/obesity in the US.  Three out of four African American women are either overweight or obese.”  For white women, that number is one in two.  (However, if the threshold was adjusted to BMI 33, fewer black women would fall into that category.) While promoting healthy weight in African-American women is essential the factors behind these statistics are complex.

Other Differences

Many factors contribute to obesity among black women, including genetics and socio-economic status (SES). Genetically, African American women tend to have slower metabolisms according to research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition - still, that does not guarantee that they will be overweight.  How SES impacts weight is not quite as clear. A handful of studies have tested the hypothesis that low SES is a predictor of obesity; however, a well- researched review showed that association between SES and obesity varies by ethnicity and that ethnic/racial differences in BMI are not fully explained by individual SES.

Solutions for All

Speaking to the Congressional Black Caucus in 2010 Michelle Obama talked about childhood obesity in the black community and the role that adults can play in improving their children’s health and their own well-being.

“The fact is that many of us, and many of the folks that we know and love, have struggled with our weight,” she told the group, adding later in her remarks, "The reality is that we all need to start making some changes to how our families eat.”

That’s advice that would apply to any ethnic or racial group. To lessen the problems of overweight and the chronic diseases that accompany it, we all need to modify our recipes to cut calories, reduce our portions, order healthy food when eating out, and get exercise.

While we can find reasons why obesity affects certain communities more than others, we’re all in this together.


Your thoughts....

Does it validate black women to hear they can be healthy at a higher weight?  Is it possible to be both heavy and healthy?



Comments


This article just states what african American people already know. If you ask any black woman about the BMI, they will say it is for white folks. Nice to know that science has finally caught up to plain common sense.


We have a slower metabolism? Damn, that sucks a load. I guess I'll have to work out harder then.

To tell the truth, overweight is still over weight and if you feel heavy or sluggish, an active lifestyle beckons. So for me, I won't make it stop my stride. 



Original Post by: monkeyandbear

We have a slower metabolism? Damn, that sucks a load. I guess I'll have to work out harder then.

To tell the truth, overweight is still over weight and if you feel heavy or sluggish, an active lifestyle beckons. So for me, I won't make it stop my stride. 


I agree completely. Weight doesn't always even have a factor in whether you "feel" healthy, either - I'm at the BMI for my age/height and I still feel sluggish and tired some days!



Good article!  It certainly made me think - I've never considered something like this before (likely because I'm white).

I think this is a valid study for people of any race.  It is fact that white, black, indian, and asian people (includng many other sub-groups) have very different bodily structures and builds.  A BMI acceptible to white people may be too low for black people, and far too high for asians, just based on bone structure and build...

If forensic scientists can identify different races just by the structure of their skeletal system, shouldn't it naturally follow that our fleshy bodies should be different too?  Excellent "food for thought".  (Pun totally intended, bwahaha!)



Comment Removed

Original Post by: thegoodpotato

Good article!  It certainly made me think - I've never considered something like this before (likely because I'm white).

I think this is a valid study for people of any race.  It is fact that white, black, indian, and asian people (includng many other sub-groups) have very different bodily structures and builds.  A BMI acceptible to white people may be too low for black people, and far too high for asians, just based on bone structure and build...

If forensic scientists can identify different races just by the structure of their skeletal system, shouldn't it naturally follow that our fleshy bodies should be different too?  Excellent "food for thought".  (Pun totally intended, bwahaha!)


I agree.



I'll have to agree with sassysistah up above on one part of her comment - black people have been saying for years that the BMI charts that we all have learned & that our doctors have preached, were made for non-blacks. Like the article says, body fat is distributed differently among black women. Black women, on average, have larger butts, thighs, and hips, which is probably a genetic thing. This makes them heavier, but not necessarily unhealthy. I have a wide range of friends and I have seen a white woman that weighs 140 next to a black woman that weighs 160 & they look exactly the same size (except for their butts...lol) because of how their weight is distributed. I do not believe this is an excuse for black women (or men) to be overweight or ignore their health risks AT ALL! I just think doctors & healthcare professionals need to acknowledge this fact and know that not all women desire to be a size 4 with a 25 BMI. As a matter of fact, for my height, it is recommended that I weigh somewhere around 115-135. If I weighed anywhere in that range of numbers, I would NOT be happy with my body at all (my hubby wouldn't either...lol)! I am a CC member, of course, because I want to lose weight & live a healthier lifestyle, but 115, I think not BMI calculator. I guess it's just a cultural thing Wink



this is funny from sassy"sistah"and however TRUE.about time huh. mi amigo(1)of my friend who is black was laughing saying um OK so?this is nothin new lol....funny!

 

adios chica's !

and hang in there. life is just way too short.not to loose the weight,and be healthy happy.FIT(to your liking)and blessed........ adios.. from bella.



The study says 3 out of 4 (75%) black women are either overweight or obese and that fewer women would fall into that category if a threshold BMI value of 33 was used.  I think it would have been appropriate for the study to publish what that lesser percentage value.  Is it 74% (1% less) or 60%? 

I can only speak for myself in regards to my weight and the BMI.  I think it is very accurate.  I'm 6'2" and weigh about 190lbs.  When I tell people I’m trying to lose 10-15 pounds they tell me I'm crazy.  Now, I agree, I'm not fat in any way, shape or form.  But I am carrying excess weight that I'd prefer not carry.  When you are tall, it's easy for others to look at the "tall, skinny" guy and have no idea there is excess in many areas of the body.  I want to be lean without excessive bulges, rolls, or love handles.  For me to do that, I need to lose weight - which puts me right in the neighborhood of what the BMI suggests.

In my opinion, the culture or tendency for Americans and people of many other countries is to make excuses or report things like this story that somehow rationalizes having a "little meat on your bones" is now acceptable and ok.  I think that’s wrong.  Just because it’s hard to lose weight and hard to keep it off doesn’t mean we should change our standards.  Seriously, think about it...  in a simplistic way of looking at it, our bodies are made up of bones to provide our bodies a frame and structure, plus muscles to provide us mobility.  Anything more than that is excess. 

One more thing – I don’t think race has anything to do with it.  I’ve seen many, many thin black women.  The BMI considers your height and weight.  But you can take your build (e.g. medium-frame, large-frame) into account to put you at the upper/lower end of a range.  I think as long as ALL people, regardless of race do that, the BMI is okay as it is.  There may be good reasons such as socio-economic status (SES), as the article pointed out, as to why one group of people may struggle with obesity - but let's not think the BMI standard needs adjusted because of that.



 

I don't trust BMI because it doesn't take into account how much muscle weight you are carrying around. I only go by my body fat percentage. It's best to get this tested with underwater immersion testing, but you can also do it at home with a tape measure. I usually use this website http://www.healthcentral.com/cholesterol/home-body-fat-test- 2774-143.html#healthyamount

Men Women Fattest Covert has tested 55% 68% Average American 22% 32% Healthy normal*:        African-American 12% 19%    Asian 18% 25%    Caucasian 15% 22% Top Athletes 3-12% 10-18% Leanest Covert has tested 1% 6%


I am of Easter European & Spanish heritage.  My lean body mass is 122.  I will never weigh 125 @ my 5'5" stature.  The BMI scale only takes height & weight into consideration.  My normal weight is 160. (Everyone guesses I weight 130) According to the BMI scale I am over weight.  I am a happy at this weight and feel wonderful.  I lift weights, 3x per week and do cardio 5x per week in addition to the activity I normally do.  My blood pressure is 106/64, all of my blood work is excellent.  I don't smoke, rarely drink, and eat a healthy diet with occasional splurges.  I've been as high as 289 and as low as 150.  I see plenty of people who probably fall into their normal range on an BMI scale who are strokes & heart attacks waiting to happen. (I'm a ER nurse) 



^ I agree, for years I questioned the weight charts.  I am comfortable with being five or ten pounds overweight according to the charts. Smile



Sorry that the information in my last post got mixed up. I don't know why. It's supposed to say:

Fattest Covert has tested: Men 55% Women 68%

Average American: Men 22% Women 32%

Healthy normal* African-American: Men 12% Women 19%

Healthy normal* Asian: Men 18% Women 25%

Healthy normal* Caucasian: Men 15% Women 22%

Top Athletes: Men 3-12% Women 10-18%

Leanest Covert has tested: Men 1% Women 6%



I lost 70 pound, went from 207 to 138 over the course of a year. My doctor asked me to get between 140 and 150, although I am only 5'1. I don't look at all overweight and am healthy in every way now. However, according to the BMI chart, I am still overweight. My doctors says I am medium boned. I should add that I lift a lot of weight (chest press: 125; leg press: 350), although I don't consider myself a bodybuilder. And I'm almost 50 years old. I was impressed by the fact that my doctor did not go by the BMI chart when deciding at what point I'm overweight. She looked at my lab work, my vital signs, and my physique.



If this is not the biggest bs, I don't know what is.  They are pretty much telling black woman it is ok to be fat and ugly, after all you are black so who cares if you are fat.  Rubbish.

People from all races should have a body fat level around 15-20% for women and 8-14% for men.  That is the way it is unless you want to look fat and not as ripped and tone as top models and body builders. 



I agree with another post...I never wanted to be as small as my white counterparts and feel and look great at my size 12 (down from a 16W/18, and maybe would want to be no smaller than a 10).  My levels are great and my doctor has cut my blood pressure medicine with talk of cutting it out completely at my next check-up.   I knew there had to be some science behind it, so this was an interesting ariticle.  Just yesterday, I was reading a women's health magazine, and all I could think is, "Boy, these women are too skinny."  I know that may be personal preference as well.  I wonder how long it will take for some of our "mainstream" magazines to post pictures of the typical healthy African-American female. 



Original Post by: poseidonschild

If this is not the biggest bs, I don't know what is.  They are pretty much telling black woman it is ok to be fat and ugly, after all you are black so who cares if you are fat.  Rubbish.

People from all races should have a body fat level around 15-20% for women and 8-14% for men.  That is the way it is unless you want to look fat and not as ripped and tone as top models and body builders. 


I do not believe that the overall intent of the article was saying that it is ok for black women to be overweight, I think the point was to say that maybe we should include other factors into calculating BMI to make it even more accurate that what it is.

My goal is to lose weight, but I never want to be bone thin. I stand 5ft 9in tall and my doctors have always said that I carry more weight than most women naturally because I have larger bones (this was verified with several x-rays).

Frankly, I don't give a rat's patootie what other people think of me and my weight, because at the end of the day, it's all about me and what I desire to see when I look in the mirror every day.

So although, I do compare my weight loss goal with what the BMI chart says should be a healthy weight for me, I also take into factor that since I have started working out, my legs are still big but mostly muscle now instead of fat which shows me that some parts of my body are not going to shrink in size as much as others.

The key is to be HEALTHY rather than just SKINNY. And that's the goal I am working on. Some weeks the scale budges, and some weeks it doesn't but either way, I know that each day I am developing habits that will make me better inside and out.



Always has to be that one white guy with the "suck it up" attitude, commenting about something he knows nothing about personally...

I do have a question about the article, though: what about an adjusting the BMI number to determine overweight status for black women? The article mentions a new number for obesity, 33, but what about overweight?

I know being overweight doesn't pose as many health risks as obesity, but it is still a negative label that many would like to shed if it's undeserved.



@ themcmaster - amen'd and amen'd.



I think you misinterpreted the article.  I do believe being healthy is the key and enjoying what you look like and feel like.  Frankly, I have no desire to be as thin as a super model or as buffed as a body builder.   There are indeed genetic and environmental differences that factor into the different races and ethnic groups...bone density, our propensity for certain diseases, etc.  And saying something is different doesn't make one or the other better...it's just what is.



It's about time the medical profession recognized this.  I was an Army officer back in the 1980s and was about to be booted out because my height/weight didn't fall neatly within that ridiculous weight chart develoved for people of Asian and European decent.  I had to go to the doctor to be evaluated and have my weight monitored.  He determined that I was completely healthy and, using calipers (those pincher things) determined that my body mass fell within the range of what men were supposed to be, and my mussel mass was off the charts.  I was built like a prize fighter, short stout and solid mussel.  He wrote up his findings and placed them permanently in my medical records.  Unfortunately none of that is true for me today and my weight is now what is off the charts.  But that let me know way back then that those charts were not developed with people of all builds and races in mind.  For those who will read this and think I'm saying being overweight is OK for black women let me make it plain....that is not what I'm saying.  I'm saying that a lot of black women (not all) can carry a FEW POUNDS more then what those charts recommend and still be healthy.  Perhaps in the next study used to develop body mass standards all races and body types should be considered.



Original Post by: poseidonschild

If this is not the biggest bs, I don't know what is.  They are pretty much telling black woman it is ok to be fat and ugly, after all you are black so who cares if you are fat.  Rubbish.

People from all races should have a body fat level around 15-20% for women and 8-14% for men.  That is the way it is unless you want to look fat and not as ripped and tone as top models and body builders. 


That's not what this article is saying...at all.

I'm not sure if you're black or know many black people, but look for example at some of the blacks in the media. Many black women naturally carry a lot more weight in the butt, hips, thighs (which I don't consider "ugly", I actually envy more curvy women).

What this article could do a good job of using is the hip to waist ratio. Even with a larger waist, if you have very large hips as well, it's usually a good indicator of your low health risk. The folks with an apple shape are generally in higher risk for health. I believe this is what the article is getting at.

Many Black women are shaped differently, period. I'm a mixture of races, and tend to be shaped more like my half white grandmother, but most of my cousins on my other side of the family are thick and curvy, and very much healthy.

Now, the whole culture can do a better job of healthy eating habits, less fried foods, more vegetables NOT cooked with fats...but that's a difficult change that we must make.



Original Post by: smithdg

The study says 3 out of 4 (75%) black women are either overweight or obese and that fewer women would fall into that category if a threshold BMI value of 33 was used.  I think it would have been appropriate for the study to publish what that lesser percentage value.  Is it 74% (1% less) or 60%? 

I can only speak for myself in regards to my weight and the BMI.  I think it is very accurate.  I'm 6'2" and weigh about 190lbs.  When I tell people I’m trying to lose 10-15 pounds they tell me I'm crazy.  Now, I agree, I'm not fat in any way, shape or form.  But I am carrying excess weight that I'd prefer not carry.  When you are tall, it's easy for others to look at the "tall, skinny" guy and have no idea there is excess in many areas of the body.  I want to be lean without excessive bulges, rolls, or love handles.  For me to do that, I need to lose weight - which puts me right in the neighborhood of what the BMI suggests.

In my opinion, the culture or tendency for Americans and people of many other countries is to make excuses or report things like this story that somehow rationalizes having a "little meat on your bones" is now acceptable and ok.  I think that’s wrong.  Just because it’s hard to lose weight and hard to keep it off doesn’t mean we should change our standards.  Seriously, think about it...  in a simplistic way of looking at it, our bodies are made up of bones to provide our bodies a frame and structure, plus muscles to provide us mobility.  Anything more than that is excess. 

One more thing – I don’t think race has anything to do with it.  I’ve seen many, many thin black women.  The BMI considers your height and weight.  But you can take your build (e.g. medium-frame, large-frame) into account to put you at the upper/lower end of a range.  I think as long as ALL people, regardless of race do that, the BMI is okay as it is.  There may be good reasons such as socio-economic status (SES), as the article pointed out, as to why one group of people may struggle with obesity - but let's not think the BMI standard needs adjusted because of that.


I agree with many of your points smithdg. I'm just saying that for me, and MANY, of my black friends & family, the weight ranges that are suggested by BMI calculators are not necessarily a range that we would be happy at in our culture. Yes, there are people in the african american community that are slim, but that does not mean they are healthy. For example, my father is very slim and within the "healthy" BMI for his age & height. I am considered "obese" according to the normal BMI calculators. However, I eat healthy, exercise (although only about 1-2x per week), and I have NEVER had any of the common african american health issues - NO high blood pressure, NO cholesterol issues, NO diabetes. My dad on the other hand...is at a healthy BMI, slim, & looks great for his age, but he has all 3 health problems I mentioned previously. I'd rather be right where I am than to be skinny with his issues.

I know that personally if I fell into the "healthy" weight range that BMI calculators suggest for me, I would be more unhappy with my body than I am now at my "obese" weight. I actually lost a significant amount of weight (45 lbs) about 5 years ago and was nowhere near that range and I was VERY, VERY happy at that time. My current goal is to get back to that point. I was nowhere near 115-135 though! I couldn't imagine being there. I'm just saying...



Original Post by: poseidonschild

If this is not the biggest bs, I don't know what is.  They are pretty much telling black woman it is ok to be fat and ugly, after all you are black so who cares if you are fat.  Rubbish.

People from all races should have a body fat level around 15-20% for women and 8-14% for men.  That is the way it is unless you want to look fat and not as ripped and tone as top models and body builders. 


Perhaps being "as ripped and toned as top models and body builders" is your goal but don't presume it is the goal of every woman or every person for that matter.  When I'm paid top dollar to spend the time in the gym, to work half of my day with a trainer, and starve myself into a very unhealthy state, then maybe, just maybe, I'll consider acheiving that goal.  Until then I'll settle for being at a healthy weight for my height and body type, and to live the life of a normal person who works a real job everyday.



Someone explain BMI to me! Maybe I'm crazy.  Okay, I am crazy, but I don't understand.  Take the 175 pound, 5 foot 9 inch guy who is a total fat blob, hasn't exercised in 35 years, eats nothing but marshmallows, drinks only milk shakes....and watches TV 10 hours a day.    Then compare the 175 pound 5 foot 9 inch guy who works out 4 hours a day, hasn't 2 pounds of fat on his entire  body, can run a marathon, and eats nothing but celery and lean chicken, and drinks only distilled water.  Same BMI!!  That makes no sense to me.  How can BMI be a measurement of health?  Based on the above theoretical situation, it becomes totally immaterial.  Doesn't it?



This article just confirms what I have always known about   black women. I have always thought my heavier black girlfiends have looked downright sexy even when they outweighed me by 20 or 30 pounds. Most white women look better on the lean side. We are built differently. As I've aged and struggled to keep my weight under control, I've lost my butt and gained a gut, if thats not bad enough, Our white skin wrinkles and our hair turns gray sooner.  It is in the genes. I don't think this article is giving permission for black women to be fat, I think its saying its great to be you.



Original Post by: smithdg

The study says 3 out of 4 (75%) black women are either overweight or obese and that fewer women would fall into that category if a threshold BMI value of 33 was used.  I think it would have been appropriate for the study to publish what that lesser percentage value.  Is it 74% (1% less) or 60%? 

I can only speak for myself in regards to my weight and the BMI.  I think it is very accurate.  I'm 6'2" and weigh about 190lbs.  When I tell people I’m trying to lose 10-15 pounds they tell me I'm crazy.  Now, I agree, I'm not fat in any way, shape or form.  But I am carrying excess weight that I'd prefer not carry.  When you are tall, it's easy for others to look at the "tall, skinny" guy and have no idea there is excess in many areas of the body.  I want to be lean without excessive bulges, rolls, or love handles.  For me to do that, I need to lose weight - which puts me right in the neighborhood of what the BMI suggests.

In my opinion, the culture or tendency for Americans and people of many other countries is to make excuses or report things like this story that somehow rationalizes having a "little meat on your bones" is now acceptable and ok.  I think that’s wrong.  Just because it’s hard to lose weight and hard to keep it off doesn’t mean we should change our standards.  Seriously, think about it...  in a simplistic way of looking at it, our bodies are made up of bones to provide our bodies a frame and structure, plus muscles to provide us mobility.  Anything more than that is excess. 

One more thing – I don’t think race has anything to do with it.  I’ve seen many, many thin black women.  The BMI considers your height and weight.  But you can take your build (e.g. medium-frame, large-frame) into account to put you at the upper/lower end of a range.  I think as long as ALL people, regardless of race do that, the BMI is okay as it is.  There may be good reasons such as socio-economic status (SES), as the article pointed out, as to why one group of people may struggle with obesity - but let's not think the BMI standard needs adjusted because of that.


Sir- there are some things I agree with but one thing I do not agree with is that the BMI doesn't need some adjusting. My husband is 5'9" and weighs 219lbs. The BMI considers him OBESE! That is absurd. He is a nicely built solid man, football player build and is healthy. Now, he may want to lose some fat (10lbs) but that to be cnsidered healthy by the BMI- he'd have to lose 52lbs!!! That is crazy! He'd look sick if he lost all that weight.

So should we follow the BMI like a bible when it puts us in a position that would now have us disliking the way we look, creating self-esteem issues? Where's that on the BMI? I mean, really!

The BMI suggest that I am overweight b/c of 4 pounds! REALLY?! Four pounds? After 2 kids people still look at me and say I could be a model (not plus size) and this BMI says I am overweight. SMH. So if I lose 4 lbs I am now he picture of health? No. It is not accurate. I can lose the 4lbs and still be really unhealthy. AND you may know plenty of thin black women but even within our culture we are all built differently, just as in yours. So yes, the BMI needs to be adjusted, not to give us license to be unhealthy but to make it more realistic.

I am all about being healthy. I like to eat right and stay active. But I also like my curves and my softness and I do not desire to be just skin, bones and muscle.



Original Post by: sassysistah

This article just states what african American people already know. If you ask any black woman about the BMI, they will say it is for white folks. Nice to know that science has finally caught up to plain common sense.

Totally agree! They need to do more of these studies because as much as people would like to think otherwise there are key differences in our body types.

I mean its quite obvious when you take a look at the model industry. African, African American and Caribbean women are generally shaped differently to the non African descendents.

Also looking a documentary this was even mentioned by one of the model scouts he said that it was much harder for "black" women to get picked because their bodies were different as they tended to have wider hips and heavier bottoms.

Also from general observation I find that we tend to have more athletic mesomorphic body types than the others. This to me means that we need to exercise more regularly to get results than others would have to. This could have a direct relation to our "genetics" in terms of our evolutionary past.

Comparing the results in this article to myself and my family members it is absolutely true. I am 5'4 and 1/2 and I weigh 160-165 but my measurements do not reflect how "fat" I should be. I wear medium clothing size 28 jeans and size 9-10 shoes. I have always been heavier than girls my height even when I was at my fittest (135-145). This could be the fact that I have always been very athletic (a runner in my teen years) and the muscle attributes to my heaviness but by and large there is a big difference.

That being said I think we should embrace our differences, not focus on media as our guide and pick out the advice that would benefit us in certain health articles. We should also go by the way we feel eg. feet hurt when walking for short distances, out of breath, and tiredness. Those are the best indications of poor health.



I was wondering when someone have this epiphany! I get disgusted every time I use a BMI calculator. We are not built the same as white females. I have a friend that I weigh more than her, but she wears a bigger size than I do. She thought I weighed 10 less than her because of the way I look. This stigma of BMI has plagued many of black women, including me! I am just glad they finally get it! I am 5'4 and weigh 162, and struggle with keeping my weigh under control due to genetics. I come from a long line of obese women.



Original Post by: elatchries

Original Post by: poseidonschild

If this is not the biggest bs, I don't know what is.  They are pretty much telling black woman it is ok to be fat and ugly, after all you are black so who cares if you are fat.  Rubbish.

People from all races should have a body fat level around 15-20% for women and 8-14% for men.  That is the way it is unless you want to look fat and not as ripped and tone as top models and body builders. 


Perhaps being "as ripped and toned as top models and body builders" is your goal but don't presume it is the goal of every woman or every person for that matter.  When I'm paid top dollar to spend the time in the gym, to work half of my day with a trainer, and starve myself into a very unhealthy state, then maybe, just maybe, I'll consider acheiving that goal.  Until then I'll settle for being at a healthy weight for my height and body type, and to live the life of a normal person who works a real job everyday.


I really do not think that was the point of the article poseidonschild. You read into it something totally different. As elatchries rightly pointed out, not everyone has goals to emulate what they see in the media. You do not need to be ripped and toned to be healthy!



They need a BMI created for US! LOL. Can one of our black medical professionals out there handle this? LOL



Finally someone confirmed what I've always knew. While I would never be considered skinny, I've always been fit. As a child I took 1 hour dance classes twice or three times a week. In between that my school had an vigorous active physical education program weekly challenges. I was very active in sports and conditioning all throughout high school when someone pointed out the BMI chart to me.

During my senior year in hs I decided that I wanted to obtain my ideal weight. I ran, lifted weights, and I did endless crunches, but I still wasn't the ideal. So I cut back on calories. Oatmeal for breakfast and tuna on lettuce was all I could allow myself to eat. Sugar and carbs were abandoned. I lost so much weight. But I still wasn't my ideal chart number. I decided to cut another meal from my diet. So I was only eating twice a day and working out like crazy. I finally reached my ideal chart number. But at what cost. I was moody, tired and irritable and always hungry. Working out took over my life but I looked good in pictures and went from a comfortable size 10/12 to a size 6.

Then it dawned on me that I could never keep this up. I could not maintain this weight without being unhealthy. I now know that the BMI chart number should only serve as a guide but the number is just not obtainable for many AA women due to higher bone density and muscle mass. This article just affirms that this should be taken into account when calculating this number per individual.



I think that BMI is too general to be helpful.  It really depends on each individuals body type and how much muscle they have.   I know what a healthy weight is for me and for some people that looks too small.  When I was 25 pounds heavier no one thought I looked fat, however I had elevated choloesterol and felt awful.  I eat well and I exercise, but not excessively, and I feel and look so much better.  I have more energy and my cholesterol is down were it should be.  Even within races, which may have some sort of average body type...but I'm not fully convinced, I see plenty of variation.  I fit the skinny white chick stereotype but there are other women in my family and among my friends who have radically different builds than I do and should probably weigh more.    What I'm trying to say is.  Everyone should strive to feel fit and to be a weight that feels right for them, whatever that is.



Original Post by: smithdg

The study says 3 out of 4 (75%) black women are either overweight or obese and that fewer women would fall into that category if a threshold BMI value of 33 was used.  I think it would have been appropriate for the study to publish what that lesser percentage value.  Is it 74% (1% less) or 60%? 

I can only speak for myself in regards to my weight and the BMI.  I think it is very accurate.  I'm 6'2" and weigh about 190lbs.  When I tell people I’m trying to lose 10-15 pounds they tell me I'm crazy.  Now, I agree, I'm not fat in any way, shape or form.  But I am carrying excess weight that I'd prefer not carry.  When you are tall, it's easy for others to look at the "tall, skinny" guy and have no idea there is excess in many areas of the body.  I want to be lean without excessive bulges, rolls, or love handles.  For me to do that, I need to lose weight - which puts me right in the neighborhood of what the BMI suggests.

In my opinion, the culture or tendency for Americans and people of many other countries is to make excuses or report things like this story that somehow rationalizes having a "little meat on your bones" is now acceptable and ok.  I think that’s wrong.  Just because it’s hard to lose weight and hard to keep it off doesn’t mean we should change our standards.  Seriously, think about it...  in a simplistic way of looking at it, our bodies are made up of bones to provide our bodies a frame and structure, plus muscles to provide us mobility.  Anything more than that is excess. 

One more thing – I don’t think race has anything to do with it.  I’ve seen many, many thin black women.  The BMI considers your height and weight.  But you can take your build (e.g. medium-frame, large-frame) into account to put you at the upper/lower end of a range.  I think as long as ALL people, regardless of race do that, the BMI is okay as it is.  There may be good reasons such as socio-economic status (SES), as the article pointed out, as to why one group of people may struggle with obesity - but let's not think the BMI standard needs adjusted because of that.


I'm fairly certain the people - and especially women - are naturally supposed to store some fat on their bodies.  Historically, storing excess fat during times of plenty would help carry humans through lean times when food is not available (think of a bear - eating all summer and storing fat to use during hibernation in the winter months).  Storing fat is a natural phenomenon, and every mammal does it.  That's not to say that we don't store WAY to much fat, and never see the lean times, but your comment that a body should be made up of nothing but bones and muscle simply isn't true.  If it were, we would have evolved in a way that doesn't allow for fat storage. 



Original Post by: smithdg

The study says 3 out of 4 (75%) black women are either overweight or obese and that fewer women would fall into that category if a threshold BMI value of 33 was used.  I think it would have been appropriate for the study to publish what that lesser percentage value.  Is it 74% (1% less) or 60%? 

I can only speak for myself in regards to my weight and the BMI.  I think it is very accurate.  I'm 6'2" and weigh about 190lbs.  When I tell people I’m trying to lose 10-15 pounds they tell me I'm crazy.  Now, I agree, I'm not fat in any way, shape or form.  But I am carrying excess weight that I'd prefer not carry.  When you are tall, it's easy for others to look at the "tall, skinny" guy and have no idea there is excess in many areas of the body.  I want to be lean without excessive bulges, rolls, or love handles.  For me to do that, I need to lose weight - which puts me right in the neighborhood of what the BMI suggests.

In my opinion, the culture or tendency for Americans and people of many other countries is to make excuses or report things like this story that somehow rationalizes having a "little meat on your bones" is now acceptable and ok.  I think that’s wrong.  Just because it’s hard to lose weight and hard to keep it off doesn’t mean we should change our standards.  Seriously, think about it...  in a simplistic way of looking at it, our bodies are made up of bones to provide our bodies a frame and structure, plus muscles to provide us mobility.  Anything more than that is excess. 

One more thing – I don’t think race has anything to do with it.  I’ve seen many, many thin black women.  The BMI considers your height and weight.  But you can take your build (e.g. medium-frame, large-frame) into account to put you at the upper/lower end of a range.  I think as long as ALL people, regardless of race do that, the BMI is okay as it is.  There may be good reasons such as socio-economic status (SES), as the article pointed out, as to why one group of people may struggle with obesity - but let's not think the BMI standard needs adjusted because of that.


Just because you "dont think" race has anything to do with it does not mean that race does not have anything to do with it.

There are many factors involved here and your comment seems to reflect that you have misconstrued the point of the article. It is not suggesting that black women get a "free pass" at eating junk and being overweight as your comment suggests. But rather that we cannot rely SOLELY on the BMI measurements as our guide.

Just because you see "thin black women" does not mean that every black women can be "thin" nor any women for that matter. Furthermore it is OK to have "a little meat on your bones" that is the MAJORITY of women in this world. Our bodies are genetically geared to store fat as a by product from the old days when food was scarce.

The westernized countries project that it is not OK to have a little meat on your bones by parading these scrawny women who constantly watch what they eat (no life at all in my opinion) as the epitome of beauty and the public ingrain these images into their minds as if it is the true measure of beauty and health. Well it is not and should not be for everyone! 

Bone density, muscle mass and I repeat genetics have alot to do with how our body distributes fat. Think about if we can recognize that people have different hair types and skin types and colour as a direct correlation to their ancestral heritage then why not body mass, muscle and fat ratio? That would be like telling a black women to use European designed hair products to manage her hair because all hair is generally made of the same thing....dead cells!



Ok, you all DO realise that BMI was invented in the late 1800s, right? The issue here isn't about black vs white vs asian, it's about the fact that we're still seriously considering a piece of psuedo-medical quakery from the period of time when people thought tapeworms were a valid diet and children should be fed heroin to shut them up!

BMI, at its simplest, divides your weight by your height. We ALL know that health is measured in many complex ways, and that with which we should all be concerned is becoming healthy, not skinny!



This article needs some maaaaad proofreading...



I agree with you !



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@ posiedonschild

Fat does not equal ugly.  Fat = fat.  And if you think otherwise you clearly have a self image problem.



This is NOT being lazy, or causing "disparity"!!    I have to say this report ( if they bothered to study different nationalities)  ALSO  should apply to women in  other nationalities/regions.  Samoan women,  Inuit, some Eastern European (Slavic) are short,  higher density and healthy at higher weights.  This is no excuse for  being fat,  and saying you are not, but a  reasonable  status NOT considered in those UDA Gov charts. Thin boned  whites can be 112 and be healthy.   I am of Russian and Polish stock, short,  heavier muscled naturally, and I can carry more weight than the charts say I should, but look thinner.  While I am  overweight NOW, when I was not, I could weight 148 pounds and it was all well distributed with very good health,  and I wore  smaller size clothes, but for my height the charts  say 110-118 pounds which is extremely thin for me, and I'd be sick if I tried to maintain that low weight.  A friend of same heritage did diet down to the chart weight, she wanted to be 'skinny' ....sure enough she lost her menses at 35!  That's not healthy at all, now she is back to a more 'normal' weight for her.

 Let's not disparage all women of color or nationality as being lazy.  I read a report that said the fattest humans are  found in black women, and the thinnest humans are black men.. go figure.  Nature is not even across the board!



Original Post by: poseidonschild

If this is not the biggest bs, I don't know what is.  They are pretty much telling black woman it is ok to be fat and ugly, after all you are black so who cares if you are fat.  Rubbish.

People from all races should have a body fat level around 15-20% for women and 8-14% for men.  That is the way it is unless you want to look fat and not as ripped and tone as top models and body builders. 


Black women and white women and Asian women are not built the same and may not be physiologically the same--not at all. So your response is simplistic and ignorant. Fat is not necessarily fat.



I think there is way too much emphasis placed on numbers.  If you feel good and YOU are happy with how you look, you are probably about where you need to be.  Striving for a size 6 or to be under 125 pounds or whatever the average woman is seeking should not be what it's all about.  Regardless of race, people are made in different shapes and sizes, from bone structure, to musculature, to bust size.  There is no one size fits all number.  I am all for people being happy and healthy!



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Yes, I'm told over and over again that I look like I weigh about 125, when I actually weigh 142. When I went into the military (1979) and weighed in, the doctor was stunned. At 5'1, I weighed 119. Although that was not overweight, he remarked that he was wondering where I was hiding it that weight. There needs to be a new definition of overweight and that definition may vary from race to race, and I'm sure that it will also vary some within the various races. This is not about unfairness. It's about accuracy and the practice of competent medicine.



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Well what can I say. I'm African American, Irish, Indian, White and Scottish. I'm a  36 year old female, 5'10" tall and I weigh 248lbs and I just had my second child 3.5 months ago...what would the "numbers" say about me? My BMI says that I am suppose to weigh 150 lbs and I say your crazy. I haven't weighed 150 since I was 11 years old. If I could get employed with my college degree and be able to shop at other places that offer more friuts and vegtables and less all the things that I don't need to eat, I could reach my ideal weight of 175. They preach, hoop and holla that black folks and people of a lesser status need to eat better but you won't help. I recieve 635 in food stamps and one month I decided to try something. I brought lean meat, no pork, fruits and vegtables, no sugars or oils and we ate 5 times a day (breakfast, snack, lunch,snack, dinner) for the first 3 weeks and the last week of the month we were borrowing money to eat. I think that they should take more things into account before numbers are just thrown out there



This might not be "politically correct" but I think well rounded (okay, overweight) black women are very, very beautiful.  There's a special glow and happiness and almost regal-ness (is that a word?) that they have.  I think overweight white women (I'm one) don't even come close to comparing.  In fact, I can't think of a single white woman who is overweight and beautiful but a bunch of names jump into my head when I think of beautiful black women...my absolute favorite being Queen Latifah! I would LOVE to look just like her.

So, to Rogersbabe who wrote, "They are pretty much telling black woman it is ok to be fat and ugly, after all you are black so who cares if you are fat.".....I disagree with you TOTALLY...fat does NOT mean ugly for black women. If it does, then I want to be ugly, too. And while we're at it, I'd like to be able to sing out beautifully in church, too. (The key word there being "beautifully"....)

One other thing...all those stick figures are the ones that I actually find to be unappealing...I would rather stay as I am than look like one of those models who are all skin and bones.  They are the opposite extreme and I would say just as unhealthy. 



My sincere apologies to Rogersbabe....apparently it was poseidonschild who made the comment I was referring to.  Surprised So very sorry, Rogersbabe...please forgive me!!!!



Original Post by: aprilbollers

Original Post by: 4photochick

I think there is way too much emphasis placed on numbers.  If you feel good and YOU are happy with how you look, you are probably about where you need to be.  Striving for a size 6 or to be under 125 pounds or whatever the average woman is seeking should not be what it's all about.  Regardless of race, people are made in different shapes and sizes, from bone structure, to musculature, to bust size.  There is no one size fits all number.  I am all for people being happy and healthy!


You summed it up quite well here: "There is no one size fits all number."

Women do come in all shapes and sizes and can be healthy at different weights. My fear is that some people might take an article like this at face value and not even bother to check their true health status at whatever size they are.


I hear that reasoning all of the time in the gym, and although I do not feel that there is a one size fits all number, I do think this: Diabetes doesn't care in you look fabulous in that dress. Arthritis doesn't give a squat if those pants fit you perfectly. You can look good in a smaller size. What it comes down to is how healthy you are and are likely to be in the long run if you stay at the weight that you are at. (Bear in mind that some diseases really begin showing up until people hit their late 40s or 50s.) Although you can be healthy and overweight (or skinny and sickly), it isn't likely that you can be obese and healthy and that message needs to be put out there also.



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