Dr. Ann Smith Barnes, who studies obesity at Baylor College of Medicine, confirmed this via an email to Reuters Health; noting that “Many large and well done studies have demonstrated [this].” She is also the medical director of Weight Management Services and Disease Prevention for the Harris Health System of Houston.
She was not involved in the new study.
There seems to be no clear-cut reason for this difference; though scientists suggest it is because black women are less likely to adhere to weight loss programs; while they say another possible explanation is that their bodies need fewer calories.
In an attempt to learn more, a study led by James DeLany from the University of Pittsburgh was done on 39 African American women and 66 white women who were all “severely obese.”
Some of the women were randomly assigned to a calorie-restricted diet only guideline, while others participated in diet along with exercise.
The women’s daily energy expenditure at the beginning and end of the study was measured by researchers; and their physical activity was tracked using wearable monitors.
By the end of the six-month intervention, white women had lost an average of 24 pounds and African American women had lost an average of 16 pounds, according to findings published in the International Journal of Obesity.
“Our results show that the African American women and Caucasian women were consuming nearly exactly the same number of calories during the intervention, and were engaged in the same amount of physical activity – they were as compliant as the Caucasian women,” DeLany told Reuters Health in the email.
There is more to this fascinating study at The Chicago Tribune.