Exploring the Causes of Black Women’s Obesity
No population in the United States has a higher obesity rate than African American women, four out of five of whom are overweight or obese, according to a 2012 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In the general adult population, 70 percent of adults are overweight or obese.
Julie Palmer (SPH’85) is trying to do something about the problem. Palmer, a senior epidemiologist at BU’s Slone Epidemiology Center and a School of Public Health professor of epidemiology, is a coordinator of the Black Women’s Health Study (BWHS), which has been tracking the health of 59,000 African American women since 1995. Along with looking for the reasons why diabetes, breast cancer, and glaucoma plague black women, her team has explored the root causes of their obesity and suggested realistic ways they can alter their lifestyles to lose weight.
“Our study is really trying to make a difference,” Palmer says. “It is pure research, but it is research with a heart. We want it to lead to changes in individual behaviors, changes in medical practitioners’ recommendations, and changes at the highest policy levels that will help all of us have better health.”