Obesity Prevention and Control for Minorities

Obesity Prevention and Control for Minorities


Obesity is having a body mass index (also called BMI) of 30 or above.. The BMI measures weight compared to height. Healthy weight is a BMI under 25, and overweight is under 25 to 30. Experts estimate that about 2 of every 3 U.S. adults are overweight or obese.  About 50 percent of African American, Hispanic, and Native American women are obese, and obesity in children and teens is rapidly increasing. The incidence of obesity is about the same in African-American and White men, and slightly higher in Hispanic men. The Obesity and Overweight Tables in our Health Trends and Data section provide more details. It is very important that Minority Obesity be prevented because it is associated with excess death and a variety of serious diseases.

Obesity Highlights for Minorities

Key Diseases Associated with Minority Obesity
The Most Important Step to Controlling One’s Weight
Body Mass Index (BMI)
Key Factors Contributing to Overweight and Obesity
Basic Steps and Approaches to Weight Control
Childhood and Teen Overweight and Obesity
Overweight and Obesity Race and Ethnicity Tables
Key Diseases Associated with Obesity:

hypertension (high blood pressure)
high blood cholesterol
heart disease
certain cancers

Although obesity increases one’s risk of developing the above and a number of other diseases, a lot can be done to avoid it, or decrease its severity.

The Most Important Step to Controlling One’s Weight:
Following the Calorie (or Energy) Formula
 1. It’s important to understand the Energy Balance Equation, which Health Power prefers to call the “Calorie Balance Formula”; and
 2. Adopt or continue a lifestyle which makes this formula work for you.
As Health Power likes to explain it:  The Calories Balance Formula  is:Calories (or Energy) Burned Must = Calories (or Energy) In.

About Calories (or Energy) In: In general, if a person takes in more calories (or energy) daily than they burn off, they will gain weight. A variety of Tip Sheets in our Food and Fitness Channel provide helpful  information on limiting calories (or energy) in by making wise food related choices and cooking healthy while cooking good.

About Calories (or Energy) Out: Regularly burning calories off is very important, and is done through physical activity or exercise.

About Being Consistent: Be sure to remember that it’s what we do daily about both of these lifestyles or practices, combined, which determines whether or not we are going to be overweight.


Body Mass Index (BMI)

The BMI is a single number which evaluates a person’s weight as compared to his or her height. It is generally used to indicate whether or not a person is developing, or already has, weight problems, and has a high relationship to how much body fat a person has.

The following mathematical formula is used to calculate the BMI:

A person’s body weight in kilograms (one kilogram = 2.2 pounds) is divided by his or her height squared.

Instead of having to do calculations, view the Body Mass Index Table on the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) of the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) web site. To use the table, a person finds his or her height in the left-hand column marked Height, then moves across the table until they reach their weight in pounds. Then, by looking at the top of the table where the BMI values are given, the place on the BMI scale where the height and weight meet is the person’s BMI.

Please also notice on the table that the BMIs are separated into the following four categories:

  • Normal weight (first white area)
  • Overweight (first gray area)
  • Obese (second white area)
  • Extreme obesity (second gray area)
Key Factors Contributing to Overweight and Obesity
  • Individual energy being out of balance over a long period of time. Two other ways of saying this are:
    1. When the number of calories taken in is more than the number of calories burned up, or
    2. When individuals have a general pattern of eating too many calories and not getting enough physical activity.
  • Individual Behavior – Choices related to food, cooking, eating, and activity (or lack of activity) have a great influence
  • Environment:
    • Being frequently exposed to attractive high calorie foods, especially those available at a reasonable cost such as fast foods
    • Having limited opportunities for physical activity, in and outside the home
  • Family History or genes
  • Metabolism (chemical reactions that occur in a living cell. They happen at different rates in different people.)
  • Culture – Different attitudes and beliefs about overweight and obesity in different racial and ethnic cultures
  • Socioeconomic Status –Low income groups are more likely to be overweight and obese. Generally, they experience more hurdles or barriers to both eating healthy, and having regular active physical activity, including understanding key controllable factors that contribute to overweight and obesity
Basic Approaches to Weight Control

It’s much easier to talk about weight control than to control one’s weight. In this web section, one can find information on:

Why and how to burn off calories

  • Key approaches to limiting calorie intake
  • Health Power Eating Healthy and Fitness Tip Sheets
  • Key choices for daily physical activity – at Work, at home and for recreation.
  • CDC recommendations
  • Information on the FDA’s Ban of Ephedra
  • “Ephedra Ban for Weight Loss and Body Building”
Childhood and Teen Overweight and Obesity
The term childhood obesity generally also includes teen obesity.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) 2003 comprehensive statement for pediatricians and adolescent care specialists in the journal Pediatrics also provides useful information for the general public. This web section on Preventing Childhood and Teen Overweight and Obesity summarizes key recommendations related to health supervision and policy development and advocacy issues. The published full statement has additional information regarding this challenging issue.
Other Key Sources on Childhood Overweight and Obesity

Useful tips on preventing childhood obesity can be found in Health Power’sChildhood Obesity Tip Sheet.  A Health Power blog post on childhood obesity provides a lot of useful information on preventing childhood and teen overweight and obesity.

Overweight and Obesity Race & Ethnicity Tables


Overweight and obesity have become epidemic in most multicultural populations, and more often in women than men. Childhood and teen obesity are also increasing rapidly. Obesity and Overweight Race & Ethnicity Tables in our Health Trends and Other Data section show the severity of these conditions.

Recommended Sources for More Information on the Prevention and Control of Obesity:

  1. National Weight-Control Information Network (WIN) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). This site is an online resource for information on obesity, its causes, and health risks, and provides measurement tools and a variety of publications on obesity.
  2. Office of Minority Health (OMC).
Both the WIN and OMC-RC web sites can be reached through Health Power’s Relevant Resource Table.