Many Americans need extraordinary willpower to avoid becoming obese — or to slim down if they already weigh too much. For members of minority groups, maintaining a healthy weight can be that much harder according to new research led by Luis Rivera, an experimental social psychologist at Rutgers University-Newark.
Rivera says it is common for minorities in the United States to endure negative stereotypes, pervasive messages that suggest those groups are inferior, and that these attitudes can prevent people from doing what is needed to care for their health.
“When you are exposed to negative stereotypes, you may gravitate more toward unhealthy foods as opposed to healthy foods,” explains Rivera, whose study appears in this summer’s edition of the Journal of Social Issues, of which he also was a co-editor. “You may have a less positive attitude toward watching your carbs or cutting back on fast food, and toward working out and exercising.”
Rivera says the resulting difference in motivation may help explain — at least in part — higher rates of obesity in the United States among members of minority groups than among whites.
Rivera found that Latinos he studied were significantly more likely than whites to agree that negative stereotypes commonly used to describe Hispanics applied to them. The result suggested to Rivera that “somewhere in their heads they are making the connection that the stereotype is Latino, I am Latino, and therefore I am the stereotype.”
Hispanics in the study who strongly self-stereotyped were more than three times as likely to be overweight or obese as those who did not. The data suggest that self-stereotypes diminish self-esteem — and therefore the motivation that might have helped them follow a healthier lifestyle.
Rivera says demeaning stereotypes come from many sources. For instance, he says, television and other mass media frequently carry harmful messages, such as Latinos are lazy or Latinos are unintelligent. “And then,” he adds, “there are more subtle ways in conversations and interactions with others. Although people don’t say explicitly ‘you are A, you are B,’ there are ways in which those messages are communicated. It could be teachers. It could be your parents. It could be your friends.”
Rivera says there even is evidence that Latinos born in this country tend to have a poorer self-image than many recent Hispanic immigrants — suggesting that stereotypes ingrained in U.S. culture are especially potent — and that the design of his research reinforces that view.
Aside from ethnicity, the people Rivera studied were nearly identical. They lived in the same neighborhood, had comparable incomes and had similar access to healthy foods, and he asked them the same questions — additional evidence that if the whites and the Latinos saw themselves differently, society’s prejudice against Latinos was the underlying reason.
So how does a person discouraged by stereotypes overcome them?
The first cardio program in Exhale???s hit line of fitness DVDs, Pure Intensity features the favorite fat-blasting moves from Core Fusion???s nationally renowned classes. Five 10-minute segments target multiple trouble spots at once, providing a heart-pumping workout for the whole body. Use light hand weights for a more vigorous practice, or try the modifications to match your experience level and improve your endurance. Do as much or as little as you want on any given day. With Pure Intensity, you???ll get dramatic results – fast! Includes bonus stretching segment.
Price: $ 15.99
Sold by Cascio Interstate Music
Does your child get enough exercise? You can get your children more active with these 5 fun parenting tips.
In just four steps, you can improve your health for the better and this article will show you how. The steps below are bite-sized nuggets of health information you can actually use to live a healthy life. Here we go… Nutritional supplements are the first step As far as I’m concerned, they are very important […]
Several food and nutrition trends were in the spotlight this year, including the continued rise of plant-based diets, non-dairy ice creams and superfoods that are blasts from the past — legumes, apples and cabbage. It can be easy to experience nutrition whiplash in the New Year, but don’t be a victim. Get a jump-start on […]
Setting intentions is a powerful thing. Then when you have that shiny new gym membership in hand, you feel like nothing stands between you and your goals to get in shape once and for all. Trouble is, lack of motivation, unpreparedness and busy schedules have a way of interfering with our plans. If you find […]