The news that many black women battle with their weight is not new. According to the CDC, four out of five black women continue to be overweight or obese.
There have been many attempts to define the exact cause of the dilemma, and hair has always been mentioned as a major factor. But is it still the case?
According to a new study conducted by the University of Colorado School of Medicine study, it is. Although lack of self-discipline or money were also reported as barriers to exercise, issues with hairstyle maintenance was the most frequently reported barrier to regular exercise.
However, the researchers also noted a shift toward more “low-maintenance” hairstyles, which might help more women overcome these barriers to exercise.
“There is some exciting news from this study,” said co-principal investigator Dr. Amy Huebschmann, director of the university’s Center for Women’s Health Research. “African-American women want to overcome these barriers to exercise, and we studied many African-American women who have already overcome these barriers by adjusting their hairstyles.”
The study involved 51 Denver women ranging from 18 to 75 years old. The women’s health was assessed, and interviewers asked about any hairstyle-related barriers to exercise they faced.
“We want to find solutions so women in the African-American community can get through these barriers and improve their health,” said the study’s co-principal investigator, Lucille Johnson Campbell, director of special initiatives for the Center for African-American Health in Denver.
Interestingly, many women cited concerns over continued employment and social acceptance regarding changing their hairstyle to one that would be more “exercise-friendly.”
“We had some women describe concerns of getting fired if they came to work with a low-maintenance hairstyle such as braids or natural hair, but we also heard women saying that they feel there is a growing cultural acceptance of these types of low-maintenance hairstyles,” said Huebschmann in a university news release.