The Prevention Research Center in collaboration with several community and faith-based organizations initiated the Weighing in: A Community-Academic Workgroup to Address Obesity in African American Women project to better understand the complex social, cultural, environmental, and biological issues associated with the disproportionately high rates of obesity in African American women.
Obesity has been well-established as a major health concern in the United States. In 2011, the State of Michigan ranked 5th in adult obesity rates, with 74% of African Americans being either overweight or obese. The disproportionate burden of being overweight or obese falls on African American women; particularly African American women are disproportionately burdened by this trend as over 80% of non-Hispanic Black women are either classified as overweight or obese according to their BMI rates. Despite this alarming health disparity in obesity rates, there is a notable lack of evidence-based knowledge about the social determinants of overweight and obesity among African American women. Contrary to the association linking poverty to obesity, findings for African American women have shown high levels of obesity regardless of socioeconomic or educational level. African American women have the highest rates of obesity in the United States.
The collaboration focuses on building new collaborations with community-based partners invested in the health and well-being in the Ann Arbor-Ypsilanti community to explore these issues through a review of the literature, examining evidence-based interventions on this topic, conducting a pilot survey of women in the country, and conducting several focus groups with a diverse group of local women. Over the summer of 2012, PRC and representatives from the POWER, Inc., Washtenaw County Public Health Department, Biogenesis Group, MSU Extension, UM-MICHR, UM-Minority Health Research Program met monthly to begin discussions of the complexity of issues surrounding obesity, developed a short health survey for women in Washtenaw County, and developed four short health briefs that can be used for information dissemination.
In the fall of 2012, the group submitted a research conference grant (R13) proposal to the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) to conduct a health disparities-related meeting, workshop, and/or symposia.