Study: Black Women Are Often Obese Because They Have a Fear of Violence


By: Victor Trammell

This week is National Women’s Health Week. For black women, health and well-being is a particularly important area of focus because of the adverse health risks that disproportionately affect them.

One of the adverse health conditions that pose a risk to black women in America is obesity. Being overweight has been proven to increase the likelihood of developing other opportunistic health problems, such as diabetes and high blood pressure. However, research suggests that obesity in younger black women is brought on by an adverse external factor.

The University of Michigan just recently completed a community-based study, which was conducted in the predominantly black city of Flint, Michigan. The researchers found out that black females in their mid-teens who experience fear from living in neighborhoods plagued with violence are more likely to become obese in their 20s and 30s.

Murder and other kinds of violent crime are a big problem in Flint, Michigan. According to a September 2015 report from, a Michigan-based news website, Flint had the third-highest murder rate in the country at that time. To make matters worse, that trend is expected to climb for 2016.

“There has been a culture of violence around gangs, drugs in Flint for a long time, and it’s not predictable,” Flint mayor Dayne Walling said in an interview with a local media source.

“There’s clearly a need for more police protection, and it’s the No. 1 priority in the city’s general fund, given the rise in homicides this year, he continued.

The various researchers who conducted the recent University of Michigan study thoroughly observed the health patterns, socioeconomic statuses, and stressors that were prevalent in the young people who participated in the study. Here is a quote from the authors of the study, which sums up their conclusions.

“This finding has implications for prevention of obesity among African American women who are at highest risk for obesity in the United States. Initiatives that enhance neighborhood safety are critical strategies for obesity prevention among African American women.”(Archives of Trauma Research Website)

The findings of this study are sobering and they obviously help to generate interest in the health of young black women who live in other U.S. cities, which have high rates of violent crime. These findings also validate the theory that adverse external factors in communities have a direct impact on public health.






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