Study shows Blacks with highest rates of obesity among women and men
BY KAREN KAPLAN
LOS ANGELES TIMES/TNS
Americans have reached a weighty milestone: Adults who are obese now outnumber those who are merely overweight, according to a new report in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.
A tally by researchers from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis estimated that 67.6 million Americans over the age of 25 were obese as of 2012, and an additional 65.2 million were overweight. Their count was based on data collected between 2007 and 2012 as part of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), an ongoing study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The NHANES data included information on height and weight, which are used to calculate a person’s body mass index. A BMI between 18.5 and 24.9 is considered normal. Someone with a BMI in the 25-to-29.9 range is considered overweight, and a BMI over 30 qualifies a person as obese.
Highest among Blacks
Women were much more likely to be obese than overweight, with 37 percent of women in the former category and 30 percent in the latter. Altogether, 2 out every 3 women in the U.S. were above a normal weight.
The proportion of men who were obese was almost as high as women — 35 percent. But that figure was lower than the 40 percent of men who were in the overweight zone. With both groups combined, 3 out of 4 men in the U.S. exceeded a normal weight.
African-Americans had the highest rates of obesity among both men (39 percent) and women (57 percent). The researchers found that 17 percent of Black women and 7 percent of Black men were extremely obese, meaning their body mass index was over 40.
Increased health risks
Among the group labeled Mexican-Americans, 38 percent of men and 43 percent of women were obese.
For Whites, 35 percent of men and 34 percent of women were obese. No data were reported for Asian-Americans, who until recently have been undersampled in NHANES surveys.
Rates of overweight and obesity were comparable for younger (ages 25 to 54) and older (ages 55 and up) adults, according to the study.
Being overweight or obese increases the risk of a variety of chronic health conditions, including Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Extra weight can also make people more vulnerable to certain types of cancer. The more you weigh, the greater the health risk, according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.