The Big Deal Around Obesity Disproportionately Affecting Minority Populations

obesity: it is making me insane

(Photo credit: Malingering)

In honor of National Minority Health Month, the WellPower Blog team continues to raise awareness on health disparities affecting racial and ethnic minority groups in the U.S., including the ways social determinants affect health, specifically obesity.

Obesity is defined as a person weighing at least 20% more than they should for their height – and it disproportionately affects minority populations, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health:

  • African American women are 80% more likely to be obese than Non-Hispanic White women
  • Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islanders are 30% times more likely to be obese than the overall Asian American population
  • American Indian/Alaskan Natives are 60% more likely to be obese than Non-Hispanic Whites

Obesity causes serious health conditions, including:

  • Heart Disease and Stroke
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Gallbladder Disease and Gallstones
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Gout
  • Breathing problems, such as sleep apnea and asthma
  • Some cancers

Alarming research shows that:

  • 49% of African American women (ages 20 and older) have heart disease
  • 54 – the average age of Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islanders when they had a stroke, compared to 68 years for non-Hispanic Whites
  • 16.1%American Indians and Alaska Natives have the highest age-adjusted prevalence of diabetes among all U.S. racial and ethnic groups

So why are minority populations at a greater risk for obesity and related health issues?  In many cases, they are part of low-income populations, with limited access to:

  • Health education and services
  • Safe recreational activities
  • Nutritious foods including fresh produce

Also, it’s worth noting that some cultures have different attitudes and beliefs about being overweight and obese.

Recognizing that these socio-economic factors contribute to individuals’ risk for obesity and serious health conditions, it’s important that our policies and programs continue to increase access to health care services and healthy food options, while individuals educate themselves on getting – and staying! – healthy.

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In my role as Project Specialist, I manage numerous virtual trainings and in-person meetings with an excellent track record of organizing and executing seamless events. I am a Wide Angle Youth Media Board Member, a non-profit organization that provides Baltimore youth with media education to their own stories, and serve as the Business Advisory Committee Chair. Read more.