By Chris Hoenig
Doctors have long said that diet is a key in the fight against obesity, but a new study finds that one food is more dangerous for Black women than others: burgers.
Researchers at Boston University’s Slone Epidemiology Center followed nearly 20,000 Black women who signed up as part of the Black Women’s Health Study. They tracked how often the women consumed eight specific not-so-healthy foods: fried fish, pizza, Chinese food, Mexican food, fried chicken, burgers, soft drinks and French fries. The women who ate at least two burgers a week were at a 26 percent higher risk of becoming obese than those who didn’t.
Soft drinks were next on the list, with at least two drinks a day leading to a 10 percent greater risk of obesity in Black women. “The association with burgers was stronger than that with sugar-sweetened soft drinks,” study authors Deborah Boggs, Lynn Rosenberg, Patricia Coogan, Kepher Makambi, Lucile Adams-Campbell and Julie Palmer wrote.
Perhaps surprisingly, eating French fries with the burger did not appear to play a role, with no noticeable statistical difference between those who ate French fries and those who didn’t. But age and weight did appear to be factors that determined how the participants’ bodies would respond, with younger and healthier women actually in more danger. Risks increased for women who were under age 30 and had a normal weight at the start of the study in 1995.
“The identification of individual foods or beverages that are associated with weight gain provides a basis for specific and straightforward recommendations to help prevent obesity,” the researchers wrote. “Awareness needs to be raised that even young women who have healthy weights are at risk of becoming obese if they frequently consume these food items.”
All of the participants were between the ages of 21 and 39; were not classified as obese; and did not have a history of heart disease or cancer at the beginning of the study. They self-reported their weight every two years from 1995 to 2011 and filled out surveys about their diets in 1995 and 2001.
Nearly half of all Black Americans are obese, putting the Black population at an already increased risk for the health problems that go along with it. Half of Black women die from stroke or heart disease, two of the conditions linked with obesity, a rate that is twice that of whites.