A group of researchers sought to understand how prejudice relates to health throughout communities in the US. What they found is what many Black Americans know through experience: living in areas with high rates of prejudice is detrimental to your health.
The study, published by the American Psychological Association, analyzed data from 14 different studies across multiple big data platforms like Google and Twitter to show that negative health outcomes –– like heart disease and mental health issues –– are seen in the same places that are more prejudice against Black people and other groups.
Researchers explained that living in these areas means more prejudiced interactions, which in turn increases stress. That stress, they said, can lead to “maladaptive coping behaviors” such as poor diet and reduced rates of exercise, which negatively impact the body.
Racism can also increase psychological stressors which may lead to increased anger, anxiety or always being in “fight or flight mode” –– something that also negatively impacts the body. Researchers also said the stress related to experiencing racism contributes to preterm births and premature mortality across multiple racially oppressed groups.
In the last few years, the CDC and American Medical Association labeled racism a public health crisis, further putting data behind daily experience of African Americans for generations.
“Area-level racial prejudice is a social determinant of population health,” senior author study, Dr. Amani M. Allen, who is also a University of California Berkeley professor, said in a statement.
“Because racism is multidimensional, dismantling it and its effects on health will require multidimensional solutions,” study co-author Eli Michaels, said in a statement, per The Hill. “Research identifying the root causes of and testing interventions to shift our collective prejudice is an urgent priority.”
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