Black, White Women Differ on Dieting

Body image worries a stronger motivator for whites, study finds

THURSDAY, July 5, 2007 (HealthDay News) -- Overweight or obese white American women are more likely than their black peers to ask for dieting assistance, such as counseling from a medical professional, a doctor's prescription, membership in a weight-loss group, or advice from a trainer, a new study finds.

The study authors, who surveyed 120 women in Philadelphia, also found that body image was an important motivator for white women in seeking dieting help but not as important to black women.

The findings are published in the current issue of the journal Ethnicity & Disease.

"We found that African-American women did not differ from Caucasians in terms of concerns about body shape and weight," but those concerns were more likely to motivate white women to seek dieting assistance, said lead author Rachel Annunziato, assistant professor in the department of psychiatry, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York City.

Obesity-related health concerns were not cited by either black or white women in the study as a primary motivation for losing weight.

Annunziato said cultural factors likely play an important role in influencing whether, when, and where women seek help with dieting and the type of assistance they prefer.

"Community-based approaches appear to be promising vehicles for promoting weight loss in ethnic minorities; however, there is much work to be done in terms of developing programs that improve both weight loss and successful maintenance of weight loss," Annunziato said in a prepared statement.

Modifying weight-loss programs to better address the needs of black women and other minorities may be an important step.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases offers advice on choosing a safe and effective weight-loss program.

SOURCE: Center for the Advancement of Health, news release, July 5, 2007
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