Body style preference of African American females impacting their health

May 12, 2014

The preference of some African American women toward a larger, curvier body type may be a significant barrier to maintaining healthy weight, a key factor in helping prevent chronic illnesses like diabetes and cardiovascular disease, a new research study has found.

The research indicates that measures of what medical standards consider as normal, overweight and obese may not be as relevant to some African American women’s interpretations of their size classifications, meaning that a "one size fits all" approach to weight loss may not work for this group.

The study, funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), was led by Heather Kitzman-Ulrich, PhD, Assistant Professor of Behavioral and Community Health at UNT Health Science Center.

Jennifer Cole (MPH ’14)

In part, it conducted six focus groups to explore the influence that body image and appearance have on these women’s motivations to lose weight.  Key findings showed a disconnect between body size and health status, suggesting that body mass index (BMI) standards may not be relevant to African American women.

UNTHSC School of Public Health graduate student Jennifer Cole (MPH ’14, Behavioral and Community Health), one of the researchers, recently shared a first look at the study’s findings in a presentation to the Texas Public Health Association’s 2014 Annual Education Conference, winning one of two first place awards for Outstanding Research Paper Presentation.

In her discussion, Cole highlighted the cultural and social norms regarding weight, health and body image among African American women and explained how the research data was used to develop the Better Me Within program, a faith-based weight loss intervention for women in South Dallas. 

She noted that more research is needed among this population and that programs should consider linking weight to chronic health conditions as a motivational factor, while retaining cultural body satisfaction.

Hsc Tcom Gold Humanism Society Inductees Fc
TCOM Chapter of the Gold Humanism Honor Society welcomes new inductees 

By Steven Bartolotta The humanistic side of medicine is alive and well at Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine. The TCOM Chapter of the Arnold P Gold Foundation inducted 45 students and four faculty members into the Gold Humanism Honor Society on the campus of The University of North Texas H...Read more

Jun 15, 2021

John Licciardone Hsc Fort Worth Fc
eHealth interventions could help African-American patients in battle with chronic pain

By Steven Bartolotta The PRECISION Pain Research Registry at the University of North Texas Health Science Center in Fort Worth has identified important racial disparities in pain management that became more evident during the COVID-19 pandemic. Its study recently published in the special COVID...Read more

Jun 14, 2021

Diana Cervantes. Assistant Professor Biostatistics & Epidemiology
Dr. Diana Cervantes named among Fort Worth’s ‘most influential’ for public health service during the pandemic

By Sally Crocker Dr. Diana Cervantes has spent the last year keeping people informed and updated on all things coronavirus, and now she’s being recognized as one of Fort Worth Inc.’s “400 Most Influential People” for helping protect the community’s health during the pandemic. Dr....Read more

Jun 8, 2021

Opal Lee photo by Rodger Mallison/Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Commemorating Juneteenth

By Diane Smith-Pinckney On June 19 1865, Major General Gordan Granger marched into Galveston with a critical message: “The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a Proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free.”  This was the opening se...Read more

Jun 8, 2021