Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Another Ah Ha Moment

This article on Junkfood Science (one of my favorite blogs) has really stimulated my brain. Sandy points out that the authors of a new study on the effect of negative body image have shown a link to poor health outcomes including diabetes and heart disease. They posit that this may be due to the stress response from discrimination and internal dissatisfaction rather than the actual body fat itself (they controlled for actual BMI!). That right there is a big old WOW! and thank all that is good that someone is doing this kind of research but this went even further for me.

In the last paragraph of the entry she mentions her plan to discus how "Those very same health problems associated with the stress response and obesity, are also found among other groups in our culture most targeted by prejudices and discrimination." I work on a multi-million dollar research project that is looking at health care disparities for African American families. We've been looking at what might be some of the causal factors that lead these families to have poorer outcomes even after you control for socio-economic status. I'd never thought to put internal stress related to self-perception into the equation, stress caused by being in a group that is consistently dealing with societal messages that they are "too dark" or somehow less than people of different skin tones.

Thank you Sandy! Thank you researchers at Mailman School of Public Health! You've certainly opened my eyes to some new possibilities today.

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