Discovering the Full Spectrum of Cardiovascular Disease
Minority Health Summit 2003: Report of the Obesity, Metabolic Syndrome, and Hypertension Writing Group
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This article provides an overview of our current understanding of the epidemiology of obesity, the metabolic syndrome, and hypertension among racial/ethnic groups. Three presentations made at the conference by the present writing group are summarized and updated with other information on ethnic groups, and recommendations developed by the writing group for programs, public policy, and research are put forward.
Epidemiology of Obesity
Obesity has been increasing across all US groups since 1980: children, adults, racial/ethnic groups, and socioeconomic status groups.
Ethnic disparities are prevalent: Obesity prevalence is higher among black American women, Hispanic Americans (especially Mexican Americans and Puerto Ricans), American Indians/Alaska Natives, Pacific Islanders, and Native Hawaiians than among white Americans.
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk for a given body mass index (BMI) may vary by race/ethnicity.
In the United States, obesity in adults is defined as a BMI ≥30 kg/m2, and individuals with a BMI ≥25 kg/m2 are considered overweight. Abdominal obesity, defined as a waist circumference >88 cm for women and >102 cm for men, compounds the CVD risk associated with a given BMI level.1 The prevalence of obesity (BMI ≥30 kg/m2) appears to be increasing in all US population segments, including both genders, children and adults of all ages, and diverse racial/ethnic groups, across the spectrum of educational attainment and regardless of smoking status.2–4 These statistics are actually a reflection of the global epidemic of obesity.5,6
The prevalence of BMI ≥30 kg/m2 seems to be disproportionately higher in several racial/ethnic minority populations, specifically black American women, Mexican Americans, Puerto Ricans, several American Indian and Alaska Native populations, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders.1–3,7–11 These longstanding disparities are aggravated by the current upward trend of increased obesity in the US population as a whole (Table), as clearly illustrated in the NHANES trend data …