Exposure to anti-Black Lives Matter movement and obesity of the Black population

Hyun Joon Park, Sara Chari Francisco, M. Rosemary Pang, Lulu Peng, Guangqing Chi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Rationale: Black Lives Matter (BLM) is a social movement against systematic injustice and police violence toward Black people whose goal is to ensure their safety and the expression of their culture. As BLM gained momentum, counter-movements emerged, such as All Lives Matter (ALM), White Lives Matter (WLM), and Blue Lives Matter (BlueLM). Because they undermine support for Black people's safety and culture, exposure to stances against BLM can be a race-related stressor. Although the perception of racial discrimination has been associated with negative health outcomes in Black people, it is not clear whether exposure to negative stances on a race-related social issue is associated with worse health outcomes. Objective: We investigated whether living in areas of the United States with a high prevalence of negative stances on BLM is associated with worse health outcomes, such as higher body mass index (BMI) and prevalence of obesity. Methods: We scraped geo-coded tweets (N = 51,020) that contained #BLM, #ALM, #WLM, and #BlueLM from 2014 to 2016. We determined the stances of the tweets on BLM using machine learning algorithms and aggregated stances at the metropolitan or micropolitan statistical area (MMSA) levels. Participants’ BMI and obesity status were derived from the 2017 BRFSS SMART data in 76 MMSAs, as compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (N = 20,530). Results: After controlling for individual- and regional-level covariates, regional measures of racism and police brutality rate, and baseline BMI in 2014 aggregated on MMSA level, Black people had a higher BMI and prevalence of obesity in areas that showed higher negative stances on BLM. Stances against BLM were positively associated with implicit racism against Black people and can be an acute race-related stressor associated with negative downstream health outcomes. Conclusion: Negative societal sentiments around race-related issues may be detrimental to the health outcomes of minority populations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number114265
JournalSocial Science and Medicine
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health(social science)
  • History and Philosophy of Science

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