Black Feminism and Womanism: A Narrative Review of the Weight Loss Literature

Blue measuring scale with a red tape measure.

Obesity remains a significant public health challenge for the United States, and Black women consistently bear the greatest burden.

Nearly 60% of Black women live with obesity, and behavioral interventions typically produce small weight losses in participants that are below the clinical target. However, these outcomes may relate to the unique gendered racism that this population faces.

In this article, written by lead author Loneke Blackman Carr, a Cook Center Faculty Affiliate, a Black Feminism and Womanism lens--an interdisciplinary lens centered on Black women's identities and their intersectional experiences--is applied to review approaches and results of previous Black-women centered behavioral weight loss interventions.

Key Findings

  • The authors reviewed 8 high-quality studies that included Black women and found that weight losses remained typically modest.
  • Many of the reviewed study designs did little to relate to the lived experience of Black women.
  • To facilitate increased effectiveness of behavioral weight loss interventions for Black women, a shift in philosophies and methodologies to understand and produce behavior change through novel design is necessary.