Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Skin color matters when it comes to Canadians' health, study suggests

Date:
October 12, 2011
Source:
University of British Columbia
Summary:
A new study finds that Black Canadians with darker skin are more likely to report poorer health than Black Canadians with lighter skin. The study also suggests that a mismatched racial identity can negatively affect health.

A new University of British Columbia study finds that Black Canadians with darker skin are more likely to report poorer health than Black Canadians with lighter skin. The study also suggests that a mismatched racial identity can negatively affect health.

The study, published online in the current issue of Social Science & Medicine journal, provides the first Canadian evidence of the health effects of "colourism," discrimination targeted more strongly at darker-skinned than lighter-skinned people of colour, says the author.

Researchers surveyed the self-reported racial identities -- Asian, Black, South Asian and White -- of nearly 1,500 participants from Vancouver and Toronto across four key health indicators: high blood pressure, depression, mental health and overall health.

While some findings support existing research -- that Black Canadians are more likely than others to report high blood pressure and that Asian Canadians are most likely to report poorer mental health -- the study found that Black Canadians with darker skin were as much as four times more likely than Black Canadians with lighter skin to report poor overall health.

Although U.S. scholars have researched the wide-ranging effects of colourism for African Americans, including effects on health, the UBC study's author Prof. Gerry Veenstra, Dept. of Sociology, says this is the first study to suggest that colourism can affect the health of Canadians as well.

"The findings indicate that, for Black Canadians, levels of discrimination can depend on the relative darkness or lightness of their skin," says Veenstra. "For health researchers and policymakers, this means that the broad racial classifications typically used by health researchers may actually underestimate the magnitude of racial health inequalities in this country."

"This is a first step to understanding colourism's manifestations in Canada and the degree to which and for whom it affects health and well-being," adds Veenstra, who plans to study whether colourism affects other Canadian racial identities.

The study also finds that mistaking an individual's racial identity can have significant negative physical or mental impacts. Participants who reported higher levels of racial identity mismatches were found to be at greater risk of high blood pressure, poorer self-rated mental health and poorer self-rated overall health.

"For instance, people who considered themselves to be White but believed others tend to think they are something else -- perhaps that they were of mixed race, for example -- were at a higher risk of high blood pressure and poor mental health," Veenstra says.

While the study did not investigate the causes of this phenomenon, Veenstra says previous studies have suggested that people experience stress when the cues provided by others do not match their conceptions of themselves, a stress that can be strong enough to elicit adverse health outcomes.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of British Columbia. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Gerry Veenstra. Mismatched racial identities, colourism, and health in Toronto and Vancouver. Social Science & Medicine, 2011; 73 (8): 1152 DOI: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2011.07.030

Cite This Page:

University of British Columbia. "Skin color matters when it comes to Canadians' health, study suggests." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 October 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/10/111012113347.htm>.
University of British Columbia. (2011, October 12). Skin color matters when it comes to Canadians' health, study suggests. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 26, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/10/111012113347.htm
University of British Columbia. "Skin color matters when it comes to Canadians' health, study suggests." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/10/111012113347.htm (accessed July 26, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

University Quiz Implies Atheists Are Smarter Than Christians

University Quiz Implies Atheists Are Smarter Than Christians

Newsy (July 25, 2014) An online quiz from a required course at Ohio State is making waves for suggesting atheists are inherently smarter than Christians. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Beatings and Addiction: Pakistan Drug 'clinic' Tortures Patients

Beatings and Addiction: Pakistan Drug 'clinic' Tortures Patients

AFP (July 24, 2014) A so-called drugs rehab 'clinic' is closed down in Pakistan after police find scores of ‘patients’ chained up alleging serial abuse. Duration 03:05 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

Newsy (July 24, 2014) The FDA approved Targiniq ER on Wednesday, a painkiller designed to keep users from abusing it. Like any new medication, however, it has doubters. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Can Watching TV Make You Feel Like A Failure?

Can Watching TV Make You Feel Like A Failure?

Newsy (July 24, 2014) A study by German researchers claims watching TV while you're stressed out can make you feel guilty and like a failure. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins