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New Data Shows African Americans Have Highest Obesity Rates

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Blacks had 51 percent higher prevalence of obesity, and Hispanics
had 21 percent higher obesity prevalence compared with whites,
according to researchers with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

prevalences of obesity for blacks and whites were found in the South
and Midwest than in the West and Northeast. Hispanics in the Northeast
had lower obesity prevalence than Hispanics in the Midwest, South or
West. The study, in CDC′s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report,
examined data from 2006-2008. “This study highlights that in the United
States, blacks and Hispanics are disproportionately affected by
obesity,” said Dr. William H. Dietz, Director of CDC′s Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity,
“If we have any hope of stemming the rise in obesity, we must intensify
our efforts to create an environment for healthy living in these

The study uses data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS),
of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. BRFSS is an ongoing,
state-based, random-digit–dialed telephone survey of the U.S. civilian,
noninstitutionalized population aged 18 years and older.

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

For blacks, the prevalence of obesity
ranged from 23 percent to 45.1 percent among all states and the
District of Columbia; among Hispanics in 50 states and DC, the
prevalence of obesity ranged from 21 percent to 36.7 percent, with 11
states having an obesity prevalence of 30 percent or higher. Among
whites in 50 states and the District of Columbia, the prevalence of
obesity ranged from 9 percent to 30.2 percent, with only West Virginia
having a prevalence of 30 percent or more.
“We know that racial and ethnic differences in obesity prevalence are
likely due to both individual behaviors, as well as differences in the
physical and social environment,” said Liping Pan, M.D., M.P.H., lead
author and epidemiologist. “We need a combination of policy and
environmental changes that can create opportunities for healthier

this study analysis, CDC analyzed the 2006−2008 BRFSS data. For more
information on obesity trends, tables, including an animated map, visit

To learn more about CDC′s efforts in the fight against obesity or for
more information about nutrition, physical activity, and maintaining a
healthy weight, visit


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