Type 2 diabetes is found in twice as many black women as white women and the percentage increases with age. As well, the risk of diabetes complications is much higher.
One of the keys to the prevention and control of Type 2 diabetes is sticking to dietary recommendation; the challenging part is actually losing weight and keeping it off. But it is not always easy to follow and maintain a healthy eating pattern; it is often challenging for people with Type 2 diabetes.
It's a widely accepted truth that losing weight results in a slower metabolism. As people lose weight, their bodies don't need as much energy, and the same diet results in less weight loss each week. Scientists at the Wake Forest University School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, however, have found that dieting has different metabolic effects in white and black women.
Sometimes, scientists believe, dieting hard can slow down the metabolism so much that women easily regain weight when they actually stop the diet. To see if this effect is equally true for women of different races, the Wake Forest scientists recruited 26 healthy black women and 65 healthy white women aged 50 to 70 whose weight and height classified them as obese. They were all given a dietitian-prepared diet consisting of 60 per cent carbohydrate, 25 per cent protein, and 15 per cent fat. They bought an approved fast food breakfast and were given lunch and dinner by the research program to eat at home, and were allowed two free days a month.
All the women were given food and enrolled in a supervised exercise program to ensure a deficit of 2,800 calories (11,760 kilojoules) each week. The exercise program was based on walking, 20 minutes at a slow pace three times a week at the beginning of the program, gradually increasing to 55 minutes at a faster pace three times a week by the end of the program.
At the end of 20 weeks, all the women had lost weight, but the white women had lost more weight. The scientists also measured basal metabolic rate, the number of calories (kilojoules) needed just to keep basic life functions going. Basal metabolic rate, also known as resting energy expenditure, went down in black women, but not in white women.
Black women are also at a higher risk for Type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure. It may be that black women, in particular, need a cheat-meal system where they eat variable amounts of calories from day-to-day, but fewer calories week by week, so that they can continue to lose weight as they continue their diet plan.