Clark, Vernessa R.; Hill Jr., Oliver W.
January 2009
Ethnicity & Disease;Winter2009, Vol. 19 Issue 1, p2
Academic Journal
Objedive: The purpose of the present study was to examine the effects of body mass on cardiovascular reactivity to racism in African American college students. Design and Methods: Cardiac output, stroke volume, heart rate and blood pressure were measured as participants viewed a racially noxious scene on videotape. Body mass was measured using body mass index calculated using height and weight. We hypothesized that obese individuals would have greater cardiovascular reactivity to the scene than overweight individuals or individuals with normal weight. We also hypothesized that obese women would have the greatest cardiovascular reactivity to the scenes compared to overweight and normal weight women, and obese, overweight, and normal weight men. Lastly, we hypothesized that women would have greater cardiovascular reactivity than their male counterparts. Results: Multivariate analysis of variance revealed that obese participants had significantly greater stroke volume and cardiac output than participants of normal weight, indicating that obese participants were less emotionally aroused by the stressor. There was also a significant interaction between sex and body mass for heart rate reactivity between the stressor and recovery periods. Obese women had the largest drop in heart rate, while obese men had the smallest drop from the stressor period to the recovery period. Conclusions: The findings revealed that obese participants were less aroused by the stressors and recovered from them more quickly than overweight participants and participants of normal weight. The frequent experiences of weight prejudices by the obese group may have desensitized them to other prejudices such as the racial intolerance shown in the stressor.


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