Peter Katzmarzyk authored a new study that was published in Obesity that shows that African-American women can be heavier than white women and be healthier. The study that was conducted through the Pennington Biomedical Research Center, located in Baton Rouge, Louisiana took two different factors into consideration. They looked at Body Mass Index (BMI) and they also looked at waist circumference (WC). What they found was that white woman who had a BMI of 30 or more and a WC of 36 inches or more were at a much greater risk for high cholesterol, high BP, and diabetes but African-American women with the same measurements were considered healthy. They were not considered unhealthy until they were at a BMI of 33 or higher and a WC of 38 or more.
A BMI that is between 25 and 29.9 is considered to be overweight and anything over 30 is considered obese. So why is it that race matters when concerned with these numbers? Katzmarzyk theorizes that it is because fat distributes differently on the body in different races. White women tend to have more belly fat while African-American women have larger hips and thighs. Having more fat in your stomach is more dangerous to your health than the thighs which could be why there is a difference is what is considered healthy between races.
Another study was done in 2009 by a man named Dr. Samuel Dagogo Jack. His study showed that white people had more fat in their body than African-Americans. He believed that the results of the study showed that African-Americans also have more muscle mass than white people. The current guidelines that we have for BMI and WC were developed in mostly white countries so differences between races were not taken into account.