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New Study Claims Racist Treatment Can Make You Fat

A new study from US researchers had made a surprising link between racist treatment and obesity. Researchers from Boston University interviewed 60,000 African-American women and found that who had received racist taunts over a 12-year period were more likely to be obese. Approximately half of African-American are currently overweight or obese.

Participants in the research were surveyed in 1997 and then again in 2009. They were asked to rate their experiences with racism such as receiving poor treatment at businesses, being harassed by police or being treated unfairly at work. The findings showed that the women who experienced high levels of “everyday” racism were 69 percent more likely to be obese than those who experienced lower levels of racism.

Kellee Waters, a food addiction and obesity psychologist from Fit Minds and Bodies (who did not participate in the study), said the link between the two was not surprising. “People are trying to numb the pain and medicate themselves with food. They are also trying to give themselves a protective layer. They tend to eat away their feelings but it never goes away. The pain and trauma always exists so they need to get the right psychological help,” she told MSN. “The more you are abused, the more it affects your self esteem and the more you start to believe the abuse. It becomes your reality.”

Waters also noted that the heavier women who experienced lower levels of racism might still suffer from “fatism,” or poor treatment because of their weight. She said many of her overweight clients “have been abused, had food and drinks thrown at them and been punched.”

(Photo: Karen Kasmauski/Corbis)

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