African American women should cut back on meat to avoid obesity, says report

A black woman measures her waistAn obesity epidemic among African American women could be combated with the help of a reduced meat diet, according to a new report.

Researchers at the Slone Epidemiology Center, Boston University, say cutting back on meat and loading up on fruit and vegetables can help this particularly at-risk demographic avoid weight-gain.

According to the Office of Minority Health (part of the US Department of Health and Human Sciences), approximately four out of five African American women are overweight (body mass index of 25 or higher) or obese. They are also the group with the highest rates of being overweight or obese in the States.

The report was based on data from the Black Women’s Health Study, a follow-up US-wide study of almost 60,000 African American women that has been conducted since 1995.

Published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, it found that, over a 14-year period, those who consumed a diet high in red meat and fried food gained “significantly greater weight” than those who didn’t.

The researchers identified two major dietary patterns among its participants: the first high in fruit, vegetables, fish and whole grains; the second high in red and processed meat, French fries and fried chicken.

African American women who ate the second diet gained more weight, particularly if their dietary pattern had not changed over the course of the study. Those who were younger than 35 gained the most weight: an average 29lb over the 14-year period.

“A diet high in red meat and fried foods can lead to consuming too many calories because these foods contain more calories than the same amount of vegetables and fruit,” said the report’s lead author Dr Deborah Boggs.

Read the report abstract

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