[guest post by Dana]
It was inevitable. A “study” done by Luis Rivera, an experimental social psychologist at Rutgers University, attributes obesity rates among minorities to … you guessed it, racism.
Apparently, the free will of choosing when and what to eat and subsequently choosing whether or not to exercise has little to do with it.
Rivera says it is common for minorities in the United States to endure negative stereotypes, pervasive messages that suggest those groups are inferior, and that these attitudes can prevent people from doing what is needed to care for their health.
“When you are exposed to negative stereotypes, you may gravitate more toward unhealthy foods as opposed to healthy foods,” explains Rivera, whose study appears in this summer’s edition of the Journal of Social Issues. “You may have a less positive attitude toward watching your carbs or cutting back on fast food, and toward working out and exercising.”
Rivera says the resulting difference in motivation may help explain – at least in part – higher rates of obesity in the United States among members of minority groups than among whites.
Rivera found that Latinos he studied were significantly more likely than whites to agree that negative stereotypes commonly used to describe Hispanics applied to them. The result suggested to Rivera that “somewhere in their heads they are making the connection that the stereotype is Latino, I am Latino, and therefore I am the stereotype.”
According to Rivera, television and mass media perpetuate stereotypes and harmful messages to minorities, hence they feel badly about themselves. And eat. Alot.
Here are some insightful statistics from the CDC on obesity rates in America:
Among non-Hispanic black and Mexican-American men, those with higher incomes are more likely to have obesity than those with low income.
Higher income women are less likely to have obesity than low-income women.
Non-Hispanic blacks have the highest age-adjusted rates of obesity (47.8%) followed by Hispanics (42.5%), non-Hispanic whites (32.6%), and non-Hispanic Asians (10.8%)
Interestingly, I was unable to find Rivera’s explanation for high obesity rates among whites in America.