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Blacks Have Highest Obesity Rates in U.S.
Date:7/16/2009

Hispanics also show higher prevalence than whites, CDC researchers find,,

THURSDAY, July 16 (HealthDay News) -- The obesity epidemic in the United States is hitting minorities the hardest, U.S. health officials report.

Here are the hard numbers: Blacks have a 51 percent greater prevalence of obesity than whites, and Hispanics have 21 percent greater obesity prevalence than whites, according to researchers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Obesity rates also vary geographically. Among blacks and whites, the highest rates of obesity are in the South and Midwest. Among Hispanics, obesity rates were highest in the South, Midwest and West, according to the July 17 issue of the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, a CDC publication.

"There are at least three reasons for these findings," said study author Dr. Liping Pan, a CDC epidemiologist. "The first is individual behavior."

For example, blacks and Hispanics are less likely to engage in physical activity compared with whites, she said.

There are also differences in attitudes and cultural norms, Pan said. "For example, black and Hispanic women are more accepting of their own body size than white women," she said. "They are happy with their weight and less likely to try to lose weight."

The third factor is the limited access to healthy affordable food and safe places to engage in physical activity, Pan said.

Pan noted that all ethnic and racial groups in the United States have a high prevalence of obesity. Programs to fight obesity need to be directed at everyone, not just specific groups, she said.

For the report, Pan's team uses data from the CDC's Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System for 2006 through 2008.

The researchers found that, in 40 states, the prevalence of obesity was 30 percent or more among blacks. In Alabama, Maine, Mississippi, Ohio and Oregon, the obesity
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