SOME SURPRISES IN THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN OBESITY AND INCOME, GENDER AND RACE

ellwood thompson's, food advocate, kirk schroder, richmond virginia
According to the most recent research study on the topic: more than two-thirds of U.S. adults are overweight or obese.  In general, rates of overweight and obesity are higher for African-American and Hispanic women than Caucasian women, higher for Hispanic men than Caucasian and African-American men, higher in the South and Midwest, and tend to increase with age.

31.8% of children and adolescents are overweight or obese and 16.9% of child are obese. 30.4% percent of low income preschoolers are overweight or obese. The figures and a summary for all of these findings come from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey and can be found here.

U.S. Prevalence of Adult Overweight and Obesity (NHANES 2011-2012)

Overweight or Obesity

BMI >/=
25 kg/m2

Obesity

BMI >/=
30 kg/m2

Extreme Obesity

BMI >/=
40 kg/m2

All 68.5% 34.9% 6.4%
All Females 65.8% 36.1% 8.3%
White
(non-Hispanic)
63.2% 32.8% 7.4%
Black
(non-Hispanic)
82.0% 56.6% 16.4%
Hispanic 77.2% 41.4% 7.6%
All Males 71.3% 33.5% 4.4%
White
(non-Hispanic)
71.4% 32.4% 3.8%
Black
(non-Hispanic)
69.2% 37.1% 6.9%
Hispanic 78.6% 40.1% 3.7%

Source: Ogden C. L., Carroll, M. D., Kit, B.K., & Flegal K. M. (2014). Prevalence of childhood and adult obesity in the United States, 2011-2012. Journal of the American Medical Association, 311(8), 806-814.

According to the Pew Research Center, public health researchers define obesity and overweight more generally, in terms of body mass index (BMI). A person’s BMI is his or her weight (in kilograms) divided by the square of his or her height (in meters), rounded to one decimal place. A BMI of 25 or more is considered overweight; 30 or more is considered obese. The Pew Research Center Study reviewed the correlation between income levels and obesity and found a few surprises. That study can be found here.

FT_13.11.12_Obesity_640px

In the United States, “rich” white women and poor black men have the lowest rates of obesity. “Rich” men are most likely to be obese (including black men and Hispanic men). However, poorer women are most likely to be obese in all ethnicities according to The Pew Research Center. These findings surprisingly suggest that obesity is not a “poor man’s disease.”  The more financially successful a white woman is in her career the less likely she will be obese while all men, regardless of ethnicity, face a higher risk of obesity as they become financially successful. However, women who struggle financially are the most likely candidates for obesity while their male counterparts are significantly less likely to become obese.

Obesity continues to be one of the top threats to health in the United States and it is being passed along to our children.

Kirk Schroder / Food Advocate / foodadvocate@ellwoodthompsons.com

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