It has been established for quite some time now that black men and women are less likely to live longer and receive the same level of medical treatment for health issues. Poverty and geography certainly have a role in this and these statistics are spreading into newer types of health care options, including weight loss surgery.
But interestingly, financial concerns don't seem to be a factor in this particular aspect of health care.
This month's issue of the Journal of General Internal Medicine reported on a study headed by Dr. Christina Wee, of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. The study found that white people were twice as likely to opt for weight loss surgery as blacks.
In Wee's interview of nearly 350 people, blacks reported that their doctors did not approach them often about weight loss surgery, nor were the patients themselves as likely to bring up the topic.
Financial, educational or lifestyle issues were not the problem. Rather it seems that whites feel more social pressure to lose weight, their doctors bring up the topic more, and general lifestyle issues were more important to whites than blacks.
For example, whites felt that being very overweight affected their sex lives, their work performance and their general well-being more than black people did. Black people did not feel that obesity affected their lives and lifestyles as much as whites.
The study showed that weight loss surgery was suggested to women more than men, and that women were more likely to go ahead with the procedure.
Wee said that "quality of life is clearly a very important motivator to patients with obesity. And what this study shows is that those quality-of-life differences across race are so important that they may actually drive decision-making in a way that creates racial differences in how people think about undergoing treatment."
She added, "It speaks to the importance of thinking about the whole patient, factoring in personal values and facilitating individualized decision-making."
Weight loss surgery can be expensive, but so can living with obesity.