This feature originally appeared in the February 2018 Issue of ESSENCE Magazine.

The facts don’t lie: African-American women have higher rates of being overweight in the U.S. Along with cultural reasons, as we are more accepting of our fuller bodies, there is also hard data on why we are predisposed to extra pounds

1. We Have A Faster Metabolism

A 1999 study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that Black women had a lower resting metabolism. However, all hope is not lost, because good eating habits and positive lifestyle shifts can speed up our metabolic rate. (See the “Boost Your Metabolism” sidebar, right.)

2. We Are More Prone To Insulin Resistance 

Even at a favorable weight, Black women are at a higher risk for insulin resistance. This can lead to excess fat storage, according to a 2006 report from the Wake Forest University School of Medicine. Managing our diet and sugar intake can help counteract this problem.

3. We Can Be Heavier Yet Still Be Healthy

Black women are more likely to still be fit while having a higher body mass index (BMI), according to a 2011 study by the Pennington Biomedical Research Center. Your numbers don’t dictate your health, but how you live does.