News Roundup

Obesity Rates for Blacks Higher Than Whites

Blacks had a higher prevalence of obesity than Hispanics and whites, according to new research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The study found that in 40 states, obesity rates among blacks was at least 30%. And in five of those states, Alabama, Maine, Mississippi, Ohio, and Oregon, the occurrence of obesity among blacks was 40% or higher. The prevalence of obesity is 51% higher for blacks than for whites, and Hispanics had a 21% higher obesity prevalence compared with whites.

“[These results] document that the prevalence in those communities is really high and it may justify the need for funding in policy and environmental changes,” said Bettylou Sherry, Ph.D., lead epidemiologist on the research and surveillance team at the CDC’s division of nutrition, physical activity and obesity. “I think this actually may well represent an opportunity for blacks to get involved in helping to develop these programs.”

During the past 20 years there has been a dramatic increase in obesity in the United States among all races, according to the CDC. Obesity, which is determined by using weight and height to calculate the amount of body fat, has been shown to increase the likelihood of certain diseases and other health problems, including type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, and hypertension.

The prevalence of obesity for blacks ranged from 23% to 45.1% among all states and the District of Columbia, reports the CDC, which collected data from 2006 to 2008. Comparatively, the prevalence of obesity for whites ranged from 9% to 30.2%, with only West Virginia having a prevalence of 30% or more.

On July 27-29, 2009, the CDC will host a conference on obesity prevention and control.

–Marcia A. Wade