Black American women are more likely to gain weight after menopause than white women, and a number of factors may underlie the difference, researchers say.
They analyzed data from nearly 71,000 American women who had gone through menopause and were enrolled in a long-term health study.
The analysis found that Black women were more than 50% more likely to have a weight gain of 10% after menopause than white women. The findings were recently published in the journal PLOS ONE.
“This finding suggests that efforts to reduce the disparity in postmenopausal weight gain in non-Hispanic Blacks and non-Hispanic Whites should focus on preventing excess weight gain in non-Hispanic Black women who are normal weight at baseline,” said lead author Christopher Ford, a researcher at Rush University’s Institute for Healthy Aging in Chicago.
Researchers said Black women’s higher risk of weight gain isn’t due to differences in initial weight alone, but also to biological differences as well as social, cultural and economic ones.
For example, Black women are more likely than white women to be poorer, which is associated with factors that contribute to weight gain, including less access to healthy food options, health care or areas for exercise.
The authors said efforts should be made to reduce racial disparities in obesity, which will require a focus on preventing excess weight gain in Black women earlier in life, particularly before age 40.
“Although excess risk of weight gain in Black women relative to white women has been observed in younger women, this may be the first study to look at racial disparities in postmenopausal weight gain,” Ford said in a university news release.