black woman

One of the most pronounced health disparities in the United States may also be one of the most visible: Black women are more likely than any other segment of the population to be obese. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 38% of European Americans, male and female, are obese. The rate is 37% for African American men. For African American women: 55%.

During the past two decades, Barbara Gower, Ph.D., professor and vice-chair for research in the Department of Nutrition Sciences, has been investigating the causes of this disparity. Gower is in the middle of a five-year, $1.9 million study testing her hypothesis that black women are more prone to obesity because of three separate factors. High insulin secretion and high insulin sensitivity set the stage, she argues — and when you combine that with a high-sugar diet, excess weight becomes locked in. But Gower’s study is testing a solution: a low-sugar diet that overcomes insulin issues and a lifetime of weight struggles.

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