Christopher Afram, Sharelle Jenkins
Virginia State University
Subject Listing - Psychology
Advisor: Dr. Vernessa Clark
Thursday, Poster Session 1, Presentation Kiosk 37 B, Health & Fitness Center
THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN CARDIOVASCUALR RESPONSES TO RACISM AND BODY MASS INDEX
Obesity is considered to be an epidemic in the U.S. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 3% of children (6-11 years of age) and 14% of adolescents 12- 19 years of age) were overweight. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, there is a 70% probability that overweight adolescents will become overweight or obese adults (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services). African American women and girls have the highest rates of obesity. For example, 78% of African American women are overweight and 51% of African American women are obese and 46% of African American adolescents are overweight and 27% are obese (M2 Presswire). The goal of research in this area is to target social determinants influencing health. One such determinant is racism. Racism contributes to the etiology of cardiovascular diseases/illnesses by eliciting excessive cardiovascular reactivity in African Americans (Harrell, Hall & Taliaferro, 2003; Clark, 2003; Clark, Anderson, Clark, & Williams, 1999). The purpose of the present study was to examine the relationship between cardiovascular responses to racism and weight (measured by body mass index). It was hypothesized that those participants with hyperactivity to racism would have greater body weights. Heart rate and blood pressure was measured in fifty-one African American college students as they viewed a videotape scene depicting racism. Body mass index was calculated from self reported measures of weight and height. Pearson correlation was used to determine the relationship between heart rate and blood pressure responses and body mass index. Body mass index was significantly correlated with systolic blood pressure responses to the scene, r = .382, p = .014. This finding revealed that those participants who were aroused by the racist scene had the highest body mass index indicating that overweight African Americans are negatively affected by racism.
Advisor: Dr. Vernessa Clark, Associate Professor, Psychology, Virginia State University, Petersburg, VA