It now seems that discrimination has a direct impact on the physical health of an individual. A latest study commenced by the Yale School of Public Health (YSPH) asserts that middle-aged women frequently facing instances of discrimination have dramatically higher levels of toxic fat-visceral. Increased levels of toxic abdominal fat may further heighten the risk of chronic conditions, including heart disease and diabetes.
The study analyzed a total of 402 African-American and Caucasian women in the Chicago area. Participants’ exposure to discrimination was assayed by a scale that rated day-to-day experiences over the previous 12 months. They were also questioned about subtle slights and insults that could happen on a day-to-day basis, like being treated with less respect than other people, receiving poorer service than others in restaurants or stores, or being insulted. Scientists then measured levels of abdominal fat with the assistance of highly accurate computed tomography scans.
“It is important to note that this is the type of fat that you don’t see. Many people believe that discrimination and fat are associated primarily because of discrimination against the overweight and obese-that the fat that you see leads to mistreatment. What we found suggests that the association may also go in the other direction, with experiences of discrimination and mistreatment actually contributing to the development of damaging internal fat,” said Tené T. Lewis, Ph.D., assistant professor at YSPH. “What remains to be determined is what we can do about it — whether we can intervene in some way to reduce the negative health impact of these types of experiences.”
It was suggested that each one-point increase on the discrimination scale correlated with a 13.03-cm2 higher amount of visceral fat. The link probably remained even after considering overall body fat, cardiovascular risk factors and depressive symptoms. However, this association does not appear strong between African-American and Caucasian women. The African-American participants reportedly endured more instances of discrimination, but the effects of discrimination on visceral fat levels were the same for both racial groups.
The study appears online in the American Journal of Epidemiology.