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Obesity Less Harmful to Self-Esteem in Black Women: Study

TUESDAY, Dec. 13 (HealthDay News) -- Obese black women have a better weight-related quality of life than white women with the same weight, according to a new U.S. study.

The researchers found that black women are more likely to be concerned about possible physical limitations caused by overweight and obesity, rather than the potential psychological consequences.

In the study, investigators analyzed data collected between 2000 and 2010 from 172 black and 171 white obese women. The women filled out a questionnaire that examined five quality-of-life areas: physical function, self-esteem, sexual life, public distress and work.

Among all the women, quality-of-life fell as body mass index (BMI) rose. BMI is a measurement of overweight and obesity. However, at similar BMIs, black women consistently had higher quality-of-life scores than white women and self-esteem was particularly high among black women, according to Tiffany Cox, of the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and colleagues.

The study authors noted that black women are typically more accepting of larger body sizes, which may explain why their quality of life is less affected by weight.

The study was released online in advance of publication in an upcoming print issue of the journal Applied Research in Quality of Life.

"The implications of this relationship between weight and quality of life in black women remain unclear. While the highest quality of life is desirable as an indicator of overall well-being, black women's perception of experiencing a high quality of life despite having a high BMI may also dampen motivation for attempting weight loss. Additional research is needed to understand the potentially bidirectional relationship between weight and quality of life in black women," Cox commented in a journal news release.

In the United States, about 80 percent of black women over the age of 20 are overweight or obese, according to background information in the news release.

More information

The U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has more about overweight and obesity.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: Applied Research in Quality of Life, news release, Dec. 7, 2011

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