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Study shows how discrimination hurts: lack of fair treatment leads to obesity issues
Date:4/12/2011

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - People, especially men, who feel any kind of discrimination, are likely to see their waistlines expand, according to research from Purdue University.

"This study found that males who persistently experienced high levels of discrimination during a nine-year period were more likely to see their waist circumference increase by an inch compared to those who did not report discrimination," said Haslyn E.R. Hunte, an assistant professor of health and kinesiology. "Females who reported similar experiences also saw their waistlines grow by more than half an inch. This shows how discrimination hurts people physically, and it's a reminder how people's unfair treatment of others can be very powerful.

"People who feel unfairly treated should be aware of this connection between the stress related to their perception and consider coping strategies like exercise or other healthy behaviors as a coping mechanism for such stress. More importantly, as a society we must become more aware of how we treat people and that treating others unfairly matters beyond hurt feelings."

These findings are published online in the American Journal of Epidemiology. The study, based on a predominantly white sample of more than 1,400 people, compared health and aging data from the 1995 and 2004 National Survey of Midlife Development in the United States. Hunte found that people who reported recurring discrimination tended to have a higher increase in waist circumference over time. Men reported an average of 2.39 centimeters increase in waist circumference compared to those who reported low levels of discrimination, and women reported an average increase of 1.88 centimeters over others during the nine-year period.

"While this study shows there is a difference between men and women, it doesn't provide specific reasons for that difference," Hunte said. "More research will need to be done to understand how and why men and women cope differen
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Contact: Amy Patterson Neubert
apatterson@purdue.edu
765-494-9723
Purdue University
Source:Eurekalert  

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