Obesity More Prevalent Among Blacks, Hispanics

Obesity rates are higher among blacks and Hispanics, according to a recent article from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. Researchers have pinpointed three factors they believe may be the cause.

black couple- overweight_jpgRecently, we reported that the Southern states – Mississippi in particular – had the highest rates of obesity in the United States. A recent article published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control may offer a clue as to why.

The report reveals that blacks and Hispanics have much higher rates of obesity than non-Hispanic whites. The South, of course, has a higher proportion of black and Hispanic Americans than do other regions of the country – which may explain the correlation.

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Government statistics show that during the period 2006 to 2008, more than 35 percent of all black Americans were clinically obese, followed by some 28 percent of Hispanics. By comparison, 23.7 percent of all Non-Hispanic whites were classed as obese during that timeframe.

And that’s the national average – the situation in some individual states is far worse. In fact, more than 40 percent of blacks in Alabama, Maine, Mississippi, Ohio, and Oregon were found to be obese. But why the big differences in obesity levels between members of different racial and ethnic groups?

The researchers think there are three reasons: behavioral differences, cultural differences, and differences of opportunity. They note that differences exist between racial and ethnic groups in terms of diet and activity levels, cultural attitudes about weight, and access to healthful foods.

They suggest a public health response in which governments join forces with local communities, employers, schools, families, and individuals to overcome negative behaviors and attitudes and replace them with those more conducive to healthy living.

Although thought-provoking, these findings should not be taken as conclusive, say CDC researchers involved in the study. They point out that the data was gathered through telephone surveys, which may skew the findings in terms of the respondents’ age and socio-economic status. Even so, they say, the clear trend toward obesity among black and Hispanic Americans is disconcerting.

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