Obesity

Blacks Less Likely to Get Weight-Loss Surgery

Blacks are reportedly less likely to get bariatric surgery for weight loss than whites, although more blacks qualify, according to new numbers.
Bariatric surgeries can include a range of procedures, ranging from having a portion of the stomach removed, to reducing the size of the stomach with a gastric sleeve, that result in effective weight loss.
A study co-authored by Arch G. Mainous, III, Ph.D., published in the August 2013 issue of the American Journal of Gastroenterology, shows that, “Although blacks have a higher prevalence of obesity, it is unclear whether bariatric surgery has been appropriately utilized among this vulnerable population.”
The study measured numbers gathered between 1999 and 2010.
“Twenty-two percent of black women and 11 percent of black men were eligible for bariatric surgery, compared with 12 percent of white women and eight percent of white men,” states a report on the findings. “But twice as many eligible white women and men than black women and men received bariatric surgery.”
Why Don’t Blacks Get Bariatric Surgery?
Roughly 50 percent of blacks and 30 percent of whites in America are classified as obese.
Study co-authors theorize that whites receive the surgery more often in part because of discrepancies in health insurance coverage. Approximately 70 percent of white men and women studied possessed insurance, versus 50 percent of black women and men. About 70 percent of the black men and women who had received the procedure used insurance to pay for it.
Still, access to health insurance only explained part of the discrepancy. Cultural and “racial” factors were mentioned as possible barriers to the weight loss treatment. The weight of black women in particular has been in the news in recent years, with a particular focus on a perception that African-American women are comfortable being overweight.
Cultural Factors as Barriers
The New York Times infamously published an essay that had originally been titled Why Black Women are Fat, before changing it to “Black Women and Fat” in response to the backlash over what many saw as a tasteless and condescending title.
Yet, the article opens with the statistic, “[four] out of five black women are seriously overweight.”
The author continues, “One out of four middle-aged black women has diabetes. With $174 billion a year spent on diabetes-related illness in America and obesity quickly overtaking smoking as a cause of cancer deaths, it is past time to try something new.”
Read the rest of this article at theGrio.com.

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