The Relationship of Internalized Racism to Body Fat Distribution

Blood cells flowing through an artery


Epidemiological studies have shown that higher levels of psychological distress, measured by indicators, such as anger, anxiety and hostility, are associated with abdominal obesity and an increased risk of the metabolic syndrome. It has been proposed that the link between psychological distress and metabolic abnormalities involves the dysfunction of the hypothalamic pituitary adrenal (HPA) axis with Cortisol dysregulation and consequent abdominal obesity. A chronic defeat response to environmental stressors is thought to be the initiating event in this pathological cascade leading to HPA-axis dysfunction. Recently, it has also been hypothesized that in western-hemisphere blacks, internalized racism (INR)—the degree to which blacks agree with racist stereotypes about blacks—may be a marker of a mindset which predisposes to a defeat response to environmental stressors. In a series of cross-sectional studies, a high level of INR was associated with abdominal obesity and glucose intolerance independent of indicators of socioeconomic status and conventional measures of psychological distress. However, these studies were conducted in adults who have a longer exposure to racist constructs than children. Whether INR is associated with metabolic abnormalities in black youth is unknown.

The metabolic syndrome has been observed in youth, suggesting a need for further research to identify its antecedents in younger age. Studies in children have shown that the risk of developing the metabolic syndrome is higher for those who were low-birthweight infants compared to those born with normal weights. Perturbations of the HPA axis, programmed during fetal development, may be a link between low birthweight and the metabolic syndrome. However, no study has thus far examined whether the relationship of psychological distress to metabolic abnormalities in children is mediated by birthweight. canadian discount drugs

The current report presents the results of a study that examined the association of INR and hostility to body size and insulin resistance in a cohort of African Caribbean adolescents 14-16 years old, and whether these relationships are influenced by birthweight.

Category: Main

Tags: body fat, HOMA, insulin resistance, racism

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