Study Says Black Women Can Be Fuller Figured and Be Healthy and White Women Can’t


serena fullBy: Krystle Crossman

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.



  1. I’m a healthy and active size 10/12 woman with a full backside and hips and register as overweight on the BMI. I’m so happy to see this research. However, I find it problematic that you choose to attach a photo to this article of a sista that is well outside of even what the new research would consider to be healthy. We need realistic images, not to little and not too big.

    • A realistic image for who, you?? Rolls of fat on the belly and back are unhealthy and unattractive. Why do some black women keep pushing back on the overweight and obesity issue, it’s not healthy. Period. The only race on the planet who accepts overweight and obesity as a realistic image is black people specifically black women.

      • Devon, I don’t see rolls of fat on Serena and based on the current BMI, she would likely be considered “overweight”. I’m not advocating for anything unhealthy, I am saying that there is a problem with an index that would consider one of the top female athletes in the world to be overweight because of her ASSets.

        • Hey Ellie.Jay I wasn’t referring to Serena, she’s a BAD sista with a beautiful body, I was referring to comments about realistic representations. Some are realistic and some….well you know.

  2. The article a miss-leading and a right out lie intentionally. Obesity is obesity no matter what race, creed or faith belief. Don’t fall for the okie-dokie.. increase your BMI and you’ll learn the illnesses one will or eventually acquire being overweight.

    Keep on listening to those who don’t look like you, live like you or even understand your culture as if they KNOW you. Those who love you.. will find you 6 feet under.

    • Obesity is not obesity. The BMI is a flawed system which does not take into account a person’s muscle mass. If African American women have more muscle (and I believe that to be true) on average than white women, as well as if the fat tends to collect in different areas, it would stand to reason that health dimensions in both would be, at the very least, slightly different between the races.

  3. Yep, this is one of the main reasons that I started African-American Omnivore (***). being overweight all my life, I knew that, yes, I had excess fat, but also believed that I was denser because of underlying lean tissue. I’ve always had good health stats, and what I’m learning now supports my suspicions. I also believe that our traditional diets, real soul food, and West African food, is what builds and maintains our stronger frames.

  4. Why wont black women accept that overweight and obesity is not healthy. Black women are the only women on the planet that accept obesity and unhealthy living and wear excess weight as a badge of honor. And weighing on a scale is outdated, get BMI measured it’s better because it can measure fat content and not just weight. Overweight isnt healthy and obesity is killing black people. Everybody need to get their BMI measured and make sure they stay on their number or a point or two below.

    • BMI doesnt measure bodyfat anymore than the scale does. People should find out there bf% but that is not through a bmi. Even the bf% can be subjective interms of how measured, skin calipers, or the gold standard.

    • Are you out your mind with all these fat women of all races walking around one thing I can say about a black women being obese is she is still strong enough to do what needs to be done that’s not biased I’ve seen it done first hand on many accounts address all women first because all these surgeries that’s going on in white women to keep up are ridiculous.

  5. Like it or not but it is evident that the races r built different but black women mostly r always being compared on every level with white women…. N say what u want im proud of black women being proud of who they r no matter what size … being healthly is the most important factor

  6. Figured this out a long time ago. I have to keep my weight on the top end of the weight range or I am told that I look sick. I tried the lower end of the weight range and was told this by so many people. Will be 55 in a couple of months and have no health issues. Smaller waist and larger hips, but not excessive.Stomach is pretty flat.

  7. Fiscally Aware on

    The lines are blurred when it comes to what an appropriate weight should be. Some of us think that being overweight is alright but look at how we’re leading in diabetese, high blood pressure, and heart disease. We’re still justifying the consumption of pork and other processed foods. We have to break this vicious cycle by eating more fruits, veggies, and whole grains. You don’t have to give up all foods that you like but just eliminate pork because even your Bible says it’s forbidden and adopt heathier eating habits. Find an activity that you enjoy doing if you don’t like running or vigorous cardio. Dance to your favorite music for 45 minutes, three times a week. You’d be surprised at the change in your body.

  8. Did she even read the study!?! I am a personal trainer and I have the actual study. Nowhere does it say that blacks are healthier than our counterparts. The study actually points out our risk for cancer, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes are higher all across the bmi board, from low to high. All the study implies is that the rate of increase does grow as fast with the bmi increase as it does with whites. This is a horrible article.

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