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Nutr Clin Pract. 2012 Aug;27(4):561-7. doi: 10.1177/0884533612445072. Epub 2012 Jun 5.

Do African American women require fewer calories to maintain weight?: Results from a controlled feeding trial.

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  • 1Department of Internal Medicine, Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD, USA.



The high prevalence of obesity in African American (AA) women may result, in part, from a lower resting metabolic rate (RMR) than non-AA women. If true, AA women should require fewer calories than non-AA women to maintain weight. Our objective was to determine in the setting of a controlled feeding study, if AA women required fewer calories than non-AA women to maintain weight.


This analysis includes 206 women (73% AA), aged 22-75 years, who participated in the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) trial-a multicenter, randomized, controlled, feeding study comparing the effects of 3 dietary patterns on blood pressure in individuals with prehypertension or stage 1 hypertension. After a 3-week run-in, participants were randomized to 1 of 3 dietary patterns for 8 weeks. Calorie intake was adjusted during feeding to maintain stable weight. The primary outcome of this analysis was average daily calorie (kcal) intake during feeding.


AA women had higher baseline weight and body mass index than non-AA women (78.4 vs 72.4 kg, P < .01; 29.0 vs 27.6 kg/m(2), P < .05, respectively). During intervention feeding, mean (SD) kcal was 2168 (293) in AA women and 2073 (284) in non-AA women. Mean intake was 94.7 kcal higher in AA women than in non-AA women (P < .05). After adjustment for potential confounders, there was no difference in caloric intake between AA and non-AA women (Δ = -2.8 kcal, P = .95).


These results do not support the view that AA women are at greater risk for obesity because they require fewer calories to maintain weight.

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