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Study: Black People Who Attend HBCUs May Have Lower Health Risks Later in Life

A new study suggests that African Americans who attend historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) might have a lower risk for health problems later in life than those who attend predominantly white institutions (PWIs), BET reported.

Dr. Cynthia ColenDr. Cynthia Colen

The study β€” published in the American Journal of Epidemiology β€” showed that Black people enrolled in HBCUs had a 35% lower chance of developing metabolic syndrome, β€œwhich is defined as three of the five factors which increase the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and stroke,” BET reported.

β€œThis study really points to a strength of HBCUs that people don’t normally think about: Not only can they be health-protective, but they can be health-protective for years to come, not just while people are in school,” said Dr. Cynthia Colen, lead author of the study and a sociology professor at The Ohio State University.

Health data from 727 Black respondents – 273 attended PWIs and 46 attended HBCUs – showed that 31% of PWIs attendees and 23% of HBCU attendees had developed metabolic syndrome by midlife. Data also showed that β€œgoing to an HBCU was linked to a 35% reduction of the possibility of metabolic syndrome among college-educated Blacks.”

It remains unclear why this disparity exists, but Colen theorizes it may have to do with better personal help and less racial discrimination at HBCUs.

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