Why Black Women Gain More Weight Than Others

Written by JJ Smith, certified weight management specialist (NESTA) and nutritionist (ANA)

Posted December 3rd, 2011 under Diet/Weight Loss, JJ Smith

The statistics are widely published. The National Center for Health Statistics reports that more than one half (54.3 percent) of Americans are obese, with black women comprising the most overweight segment of the U.S. population, followed by Hispanic women. The statistics indicate that 78 percent of us are overweight—that’s nearly four out of five black women—and 54 percent of us are obese. African-American women are suffering from obesity at an alarmingly disproportionate rate compared to women of other races.

Many black women feel that being thick or “phat”—“pretty hot and tempting”—is cute or sexy. However, we must know when PHAT is actually FAT that needs to be burned away to reveal a slim, healthier body.

There are a variety of reasons that black women gain more weight than other women. In my new book, Lose Weight Without Dieting or Working Out!, I dedicate an entire chapter on all the reasons black women gain weight and provide solutions that meet our unique needs. Never before has there been a weight loss book that focuses on the unique reasons that black women gain weight and provides solutions for sistas who want to lose weight permanently! In this blog, I want to provide you with 3 reasons why black women gain more weight than other women to get you started.

Black Woman Have a Slower Metabolism

Genetically, African-American women tend to have a slower metabolism, according to research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. A University of Pennsylvania Medical Center study found that black women have “a biological disadvantage” that makes it more difficult to lose weight. Researchers have found that even at rest, overweight black women burn nearly 100 fewer calories daily compared to their overweight white peers. While this news may seem like gloom and doom for black women who want to lose weight, know that it is a challenge that can be overcome. In my new book, Lose Weight Without Dieting or Working Out!, there is a chapter dedicated to the 12 ways to speed up your metabolism and lose weight effortlessly.

Black Women Are More Prone to Insulin Resistance, Which Causes Excess Fat Storage in the Body

Black women, even if their weight is normal, may be at increased risk for insulin resistance, a condition linked to diabetes and high blood pressure, according to research by Wake Forest University School of Medicine. Insulin resistance means the body can’t effectively use the hormone insulin to process glucose, forcing the pancreas to produce more insulin, and elevated insulin levels lead to excess fat storage in the body. Almost half of lean black women had insulin resistance, which was double the rate in both Hispanic and Caucasian women. The study showed that 47 percent of black women of normal weight had insulin resistance compared to less than 20 percent of the Hispanic or Caucasian women.

The researchers looked at how obesity relates to insulin resistance in Black, Caucasian, and Hispanic women as a part of the Insulin Resistance Atherosclerosis Study (IRAS). The research suggested that race, in addition to obesity, is an important contributor to the development of insulin resistance and type-2 diabetes. This means that black women, even when lean, have a higher risk of developing insulin resistance, which leads to excess fat storage in the body if not properly treated.

Many Black Women Are Prone to Emotional Eating

Many black women have had to become heads of households, hold down multiple jobs, and raise kids alone. Eating may become a way to deal with the stress and disappointments of life. But unfortunately, weight gain leads to chronic illness. Mortality rates for black women are higher than that for any other racial/ethnic group in nearly every major cause of death, including heart disease, lung cancer, and breast cancer. We are the lifegivers, the caregivers, and think it is our job to take care of everyone but ourselves. However, self-love demands that we take care of ourselves first, so we can give to others from our abundance. We must become accountable to ourselves.

Self-love is essential to survival. There is no successful, authentic relationship with others without self-love. We cannot nurture others from a dry well. It is not selfish or self-indulgent. We have to take care of our needs first so we can give to others from our abundance. You will have to love yourself and love your body. Whether you feel fat or overweight, you have to love your body now, unconditionally. If you can’t love your body now, then you can’t truly love yourself unconditionally. If you can’t love your body because you don’t like the way it looks, then know that the reasons you became overweight were not all your fault. But once you get new knowledge about healthy eating, it’s time to forgive yourself and others so you can let go of your old body and move toward your slimmer, healthier body.

To my sistas, it’s time to lose weight and save your life; you’ve got a lot of living left to do!

JJ Smith (www.JJSmithOnline.com) is a nutritionist and certified weight-management specialist who has been featured on The Montel Williams Show, The Jamie Foxx Show and on the NBC, FOX, CBS and CW networks. Her advice has also been featured in the pages of Glamour, Essence, and Ladies Home Journal. Since reclaiming her health, losing weight, and discovering a “second youth” in her forties, bestselling author JJ Smith has become the voice of inspiration to women who want to lose weight, be healthy, and get their sexy back! JJ may be contacted by email at [email protected] and on Twitter: jjsmithonline and Facebook Page: RealTalkJJ