While reading the article, Exercise Controls Weight in White Girls Better Than in Black Girls: Study, I was reeling upon reading the following statistics:
“Black American girls were 80 percent more likely than white girls to be overweight in 2007-2010, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Minority Health reported. And about four out of five black American women are overweight or obese.”
These statistics are beyond alarming and I feel we, as a community, need to examine what can be done to give young girls a fighting chance to beat the odds and become healthy and thriving adults. Beyond this, I found the study to be very thought provoking regarding the effect of physical activity and how it appears to differ between the two groups (white and black).
I must admit that upon reading the article I did question exactly how comprehensive this study is and couldn’t help but think that some who read it may just rest on the claim that genetics may be a contributing factor (though not conclusive) as to why young black girls may not see the same results with physical activity as white girls.
The article details the results of the study where a research team focused on 538 black girls and 610 white girls for whom they collected data on physical activity, obesity, and other factors. For three days they were measured with a device that tracked the frequency of their movement and speed — along with their TV viewing hours, weight, height and body-mass index. They also recorded their daily caloric intake. The results showed that black girls (at twelve years of age) had a higher BMI and ate more calories daily and watched more television than white girls. At the age of twelve, fourteen percent of black girls were obese while only 4.3 percent of white girls were, you do the math.
Where I began to take issue with the study, however, was that they list lifestyle as a contributing factor and suggest parent education along with income may play a big role as well. So, if this is the case, why did more than half of the parents of white girls have a college degree and have more income, while less than one-quarter of the black girls’ parents had a degree?
In my opinion, this makes the study slightly skewed. I feel if comparisons are to be made between the two groups then the playing field needs to be a little more leveled. I would be interested to see the results between the two groups where the lifestyle of the parents is equal so we can examine if this is truly a race issue that can partly be attributed to genetics or purely an economic and educational issue where resources and an emphasis on physical activity may be limited due to these factors.
At the end of the day, regardless of my thoughts on how the study was conducted, I do feel passionately that more attention needs to be paid to this issue. The health statistics of young black girls needs to continue being addressed, and I think we all have a role to play in educating and motivating young girls to strive for optimal health starting at a very young age. Those of us who can should give back and be a healthy example.
Upon reading the article in its entirety, what are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments!
I am a graduate student that often conducts statistical analysis. I think that the L.A. Times article offered a synopsis of the most important findings, but it is rare that a study does not offer statistical models that control for differences in parental education/SES. This is especially true for outcomes (obesity) that are highly correlated to SES. Often mainstream media outlets only publish the more “sexy” parts of the study, and leave out other findings that might lead to a better understanding of the study’s limitations or conclusions.
@q: I completely agree. Most media outlets are ones who race-bait and the ones who drive the discourse. It’s up to us to sift through the BS. Good question
I have issues with article on race issue period because:
1. I feel they go to areas that out numbers whites so no matter how you do the math blacks will always be on top
2. Income and education most likely not the same
3. How is “Black” and “African-American” determined? i.e. most fiji people are black, afro carribean
4. Seriously, American Samoans are by far the most obese groups of people in America.