-- Mary Elizabeth Dallas
FRIDAY, Sept. 30 (HealthDay News) -- Black women are likely to
develop physical limitations earlier in life than others their age,
according to a new study.
Researchers from Case Western University in Cleveland analyzed
self-reported information on the mobility, strength and physical
limitations of more than 8,700 older people included in the
1994-2006 U.S. Health and Retirement Study. The participants ranged
from 53 to 75 years old.
The study found a higher rate of physical problems among black
women in their 50s and 60s in the study of black, Mexican-American
and white men and women.
"We could not find the reason why African-American women developed limitations faster than other gender and racial/ethnic groups," said David Warner, assistant professor of sociology, in a university news release.
After their mid-60s, however, the rate at which disabilities
occurred among black women began to decrease, and by age 75 the
rate leveled off, the study found.
For the study, recently published in
Social Science & Medicine, the researchers also examined the participants' early life experiences, socioeconomic status, marital status and health-related behaviors to determine how these factors might affect people's disabilities.
Men of all racial and ethnic groups fared better than women, the
study found. Better-educated, wealthier men, in particular,
reported fewer physical health issues.
Women are at greater risk for disadvantages, such as lower
incomes and lack of health care in midlife, which may have lifelong
effects, the researchers said.
At age 75, Mexican-American women fared worst -- with nearly
five disabling limitations, twice as many on average as white men
-- the study found.
The study authors said future research should address the unique
health experiences of older black women. Preventive efforts are
also needed to eliminate racial- and gender-related functional
health disparities, they said.
The U.S. National Institutes of Health funded the
The U.S. National Institutes of Health provides more information
racial and ethnic health disparities.
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