Category: Health News

Black Women’s Health Imperative Launches IndexUS

January 9th, 2015 in Health News

Using data gathered by BWHS, the Black Women’s Health Imperative announced the launch of its Black women’s health index, IndexUS.  The index, with its focus on healthy Black women, will use the data to guide the creation of health promotion efforts.  The BWHS is excited to be part of this important effort.  Read the article here.

Physical Activity and Breast Cancer

September 5th, 2014 in Health News

Recent BWHS research on breast cancer and physical activity shows a link between vigorous physical exercise and lowered breast cancer risk in African American women.  This link has been identified in other studies, and BWHS data made it possible to investigate the link among a large population of Black women.  The BWHS study was published in the journal Cancer Epidemiolgy, Biomarkers & Prevention.

These results were highlighted in several news outlets (click on link to listen/read):

Healthbeat – audio segment features BWHS Principal Investigator Lynn Rosenberg, PhD (Healthbeat, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is a series of one-minute recordings on many different health promotion and disease prevention topics.  Visit to view the archive of segments.)

Oncology Nurse Advisor

Science World Report

Health Day





Birthweight and Diabetes – BWHS on

September 4th, 2014 in Health News

New York Times online highlights the research of BWHS epidemiologist Edward Ruiz-Narvaez, who looked at the link between low birth weight and development of Type 2 diabetes later in life.

BWHS research on weight featured in Essence Magazine

July 16th, 2014 in Health News

“The New Science of Weight Loss”, in the January 2014 issue of Essence Magazine, highlights research from the BWHS.

The BWHS has contributed to the understanding of weight gain and weight control through many research publications on this topic.  In addition to the research highlighted in the Essence article (the first 3 publications below), the list below includes some more recent weight-related research publications from BWHS:

Boggs DA, Rodríguez-Bernal CL, Rosenberg L, Palmer JR. Long-term diet quality is associated with lower obesity risk in young African American women with normal BMI at baseline. J Nutr 2013;143(10):1636-41. doi: 10.3945/jn.113.179002.

To determine whether diet quality affects weight gain, we assessed dietary patterns in relation to weight gain among BWHS participants who were ages 21-39 at the start of follow-up.  These ages were studied because most weight gain in adults occurs before age 40. Two dietary patterns were assessed in 1995 and in 2001.  Women who maintained high quality diets over time had a lower risk of becoming obese.  The healthiest diets were low in red and processed meats and high in whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. link to online article

Cozier YC, Yu J, Coogan PF, Bethea TN, Rosenberg L, Palmer JR.  Racism, segregation, and risk of obesity in the Black Women’s Health Study.  Am J Epidemiol 2014;179(7):875-83. doi: 10.1093/aje/kwu004. link to online article

Rosenberg L, Palmer JR, Wise LA, Horton NJ, Kumanyika SK, Adams-Campbell LL. A prospective study of the effect of childbearing on weight gain in African-American women. Obes Res 2003;11:1526-35.

Overweight and obesity have increased greatly in the U.S. in recent decades and are a particular problem for Black women. We used BWHS data on weight and childbearing collected during the first four years of follow-up, 1995 to 1999, to assess whether having a child was associated with increased long-term weight gain. We found that women who had a first child gained more weight than women who had a second or later child, and that the weight gain of all three groups was more than that of women who did not have a child. The difference in weight gain between women who had a child and women who did not was greatest for women who were overweight to begin. The results indicate that childbearing is an important contributor to weight gain among Black women. link to online article

Boggs DA, Rosenberg L, Coogan PF, Makambi KH, Adams-Campbell LL, Palmer JR. Restaurant foods, sugar-sweetened soft drinks, and obesity risk among young African American women.  Ethn Dis 2013;23(4):445-51. link to online article

Rosenberg L, Kipping-Ruane KL, Boggs DA, Palmer JR. Physical activity and the incidence of obesity in young African-American women. Am J Prev Med 2013;45(3):262-8. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2013.04.016.

BWHS participants who exercised vigorously were less likely to become obese than less active women.   Women who walked briskly also appeared to have a lower risk, although the results were less clear than for vigorous exercise. These effects on weight were independent of dietary factors and other factors related to weight gain. link to online article

Boynton-Jarrett R, Rosenberg L, Palmer JR, Boggs DA, Wise LA. Child and adolescent abuse in relation to obesity in adulthood: the Black Women's Health Study. Pediatrics 2012;130(2):245-53. doi: 10.1542/peds.2011-1554.

Sexual and physical abuse during childhood were associated with increased risk of overall obesity and central obesity during adulthood among BWHS participants.  The association was weakened after “controlling” for health behaviors, reproductive history, and mental health during adulthood, which may have resulted in part from the abuse. These findings add to the increasing evidence that childhood abuse can lead to adult obesity and other adverse health outcomes.  link to online article

Coogan PF, Wise LA, Cozier YC, Palmer JR, Rosenberg L. Lifecourse educational status in relation to weight gain in African American women. Ethn Dis 2012;22:198-206.

Children with lower socioeconomic status during childhood tend to gain more weight in adulthood than children from families with higher socioeconomic status.  In the BWHS, the risk of becoming obese in adulthood among participants who had graduated from college was the same for those who had high and low socioeconomic status in childhood, indicating that economic disadvantage during childhood can be counteracted by socioeconomic status in adulthood.  link to online article

Boggs DA, Palmer JR, Spiegelman D, Stampfer MJ, Adams-Campbell LL, Rosenberg L. Dietary patterns and 14-year weight gain in African American women. Am J Clin Nutr 2011;94(1):86-94. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.111.013482.

Two patterns of dietary consumption have emerged from analyses of food consumption data provided by BWHS participants — a vegetable/fruit pattern, which is high in fruits, vegetables, legumes, fish, and whole grains, and a meat/fried foods pattern, which is high in red meat, processed meat, French fries, fried chicken, and added fat. BWHS participants who had a high score for the vegetable/fruit dietary pattern gained less weight during 14 years of follow-up than women who had a low score on that pattern, and women with a high score on the meat/fried foods pattern gained more weight than those with a lower score. Thus, BWHS data indicate that a vegetable/fruit pattern is effective for reducing weight gain. link to online article

Julie Palmer, Principal Investigator of BWHS, on women and medical research

March 31st, 2014 in Health News

Dr. Julie Palmer discusses the importance of research specific to women’s health and why women subjects are under-represented in much medical research in the Boston University publication BU Today article “Why Medical Research Often Ignores Women“.

BWHS looks at fast food and obesity

December 23rd, 2013 in Health News

Recent BWHS research that found a link between fast food burgers and the risk of becoming obese.  Read about the study on WBUR’s Common Health Blog (a Boston area NPR news station) and the Jersey Tribune, an online news source.


Studying Asthma and Racism

October 27th, 2013 in Health News

Stress can have an adverse effect on health; BWHS researcher Patricia Coogan, PhD looked at the association between the experience of racism and the diagnosis of adult-onset asthma.  Read about the study on

BWHS participant’s diary of her ordeal with breast cancer published in Essence Magazine

October 1st, 2013 in Health News

In the September 2013 issue of Essence Magazine, “Our Cancer, Our Lives” shares the heartfelt and thoughtful diary entries of BWHS participant Heather Wright and her husband Mark Wright, detailing her 2012 breast cancer diagnosis and treatment.  (Excerpt here)

Childhood trauma and fibroids

April 29th, 2013 in Health News

An article on features recent BWHS work looking at a possible link between a history of abuse in childhood and fibroids in adulthood.

Sugar-sweetened beverages and health

January 11th, 2013 in Health News

Research brief published by the African American Collaborative Obesity Research Network titled “The Impact of Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Consumption on Black Americans’ Health”. (January 2011)

AACORN was founded in 2002 by BWHS Advisory Board member Shiriki Kumanyika, PhD.  Dr. Kumanyika is an African American public health and nutrition researcher and professor of epidemiology at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine.