Black women gain more weight after menopause


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More bad news for Black women on the racial and healthcare inequities front. Shedding those pesky pounds to maintain good health in middle age might be a bigger feat for Black women in comparison to white women, after a new study revealed this demographic is more likely to experience weight gain after menopause.

This is no surprise considering the vast amounts of prior research that shows Black women are disproportionately impacted by several chronic conditions, including cancer, maternal mortality, cardiovascular disease and obesity. Black women consistently experience poorer healthcare outcomes throughout their lives, compared to white women. The findings may help researchers understand racial and ethnic disparities in obesity through life.

Researchers from the Rush Institute for Healthy Aging wanted to know if baseline weight, classified as normal weight, overweight, obese class I, obese class II or obese class III, contributes to differences in postmenopausal weight gain among women. The study included data from 70,750 Black and white post-menopausal women.

Black women were more likely to experience more than 10% weight gain than white women in the same baseline weight class. Interestingly, Black women who were normal weight at baseline were 50% more likely to experience weight gain above 10% than white women.

“This finding suggests that efforts to reduce the disparity in postmenopausal weight gain in non-Hispanic Blacks and non-Hispanic Whites should focus on preventing excess weight gain in non-Hispanic Black women who are normal weight at baseline,” Christopher Ford, PhD, a researcher with the Rush Institute for Healthy Aging and lead author of the study, said in a statement.

Socioeconomic and environmental factors can play into the risk of weight gain, not just weight status. Lack of access to health care, healthier food and exercise areas can also contribute to weight gain in older Black women.

“Prior studies have not looked at racial disparities in postmenopausal weight gain in Black and white women,” Ford said. “Although excess risk of weight gain in Black women relative to white women has been observed in younger women, this may be the first study to look at racial disparities in postmenopausal weight gain.”