Race and Obesity (Continued)

Childhood Obesity News has been tracing the recent history of research into and discoveries about the relationship between obesity and race or ethnicity in America.

The map on this page is one of the many generated every year by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This particular one is called “Prevalence of Self-Reported Obesity Among Non-Hispanic Black Adults by State and Territory,” and all the dark-brown tinted states are the ones where the obesity rate in this group was more than 35 percent. Those are a lot of states.

Heidi Moawad, M.D., wrote,

New research shows that being overweight more than doubles your chances of having a stroke. In addition to increasing your risk of stroke, being overweight makes it more likely that you will have a stroke at a younger age.

The caveat is repeated in the words, “stroke occurred at a significantly younger age in patients with high BMI.” This was determined via a Danish study encompassing 71,000 patients, of whom 5,500 suffered fatal strokes. The medical profession knows that stroke is associated with hypertension and with metabolic changes that affect blood glucose and other factors, some of which are mysterious. Dr. Moawad also wrote of “unexplained links between obesity, overweight and stroke that are independent of diabetes, hypertension, high triglycerides and a high cholesterol level…”

Regarding the time frame the map refers to, Damon Tweedy, M.D., recalls the teachings of one of his mentors, Dr. Wilson, a neurologist, on the subject of stroke:

The risk is twice as high for blacks compared to whites, for those over sixty-five. And in younger groups […] the ratio is more like three-to-one or even four-to-one… [Hypertension] is much more prevalent in blacks — nearly twice as common. No matter how you slice it, race is a very big deal when it comes to stroke.

Just in case the stroke news was not sufficiently impressive, a study involving 153,000 patients revealed that…

[…] kidney stones are increasingly common among adolescents, females, and Blacks, primarily because of obesity caused by poor nutrition and exercise habits… Among Black patients, kidney stones increased 15 percent more than in Whites within each five-year period covered by the study.

Much of this problem originates with processed foods, according to urologists — the same processed foods, in fact, that give every appearance of being responsible for a big chunk of the obesity epidemic.

During National Obesity Week of that year, the results were published of research conducted by a team led by Carmen Isasi, of Albert Einstein College of Medicine. They found that…

[…] obesity and chronic stress were prevalent among Latino and Black populations, with 28 percent of obese children, ages 8-16, and 29 percent of their parents reporting high levels of stress… Further, researchers found that parents who experienced three or more chronic stressors were twice as likely to produce obese children, than parents who experienced no stress.

Two things came out of this. First, it was recognized that stress affects not only the individuals directly involved, but their relatives — especially the children. The problem becomes intergenerational, and spreads like a communicable disease. Second, professionals became much more aware that societal answers are needed. Members of minority groups face life difficulties that need everybody’s cooperation to alleviate.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Obesity Maps Put Racial Differences On Stark Display,” NPR.org, 09/23/15
Source: “Being Overweight Doubles Your Chances of Having a Stroke,” VeryWellHealth.com, 05/12/17
Source: “Being black can be bad for your health: Race, medicine and the cruelest unfairness of all,” Salon.com, 10/11/15
Source: “Study Finds Kidney Stones Increasing among Black Children, Teens,” AFRO.com, 01/21/16
Source: “Research Finds Racism a Factor in Childhood Obesity,” AFRO.com, 11/11/15
Image credit: CDC

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

FAQs and Media Requests: Click here…

Profiles: Kids Struggling with Weight

Profiles: Kids Struggling with Obesity top bottom

The Book

OVERWEIGHT: What Kids Say explores the obesity problem from the often-overlooked perspective of children struggling with being overweight.

About Dr. Robert A. Pretlow

Dr. Robert A. Pretlow is a pediatrician and childhood obesity specialist. He has been researching and spreading awareness on the childhood obesity epidemic in the US for more than a decade.
You can contact Dr. Pretlow at:


Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the American Society of Animal Science 2020 Conference
What’s Causing Obesity in Companion Animals and What Can We Do About It

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the World Obesity Federation 2019 Conference:
Food/Eating Addiction and the Displacement Mechanism

Dr. Pretlow’s Multi-Center Clinical Trial Kick-off Speech 2018:
Obesity: Tackling the Root Cause

Dr. Pretlow’s 2017 Workshop on
Treatment of Obesity Using the Addiction Model

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation for
TEC and UNC 2016

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the 2015 Obesity Summit in London, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s invited keynote at the 2014 European Childhood Obesity Group Congress in Salzburg, Austria.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2013 European Congress on Obesity in Liverpool, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2011 International Conference on Childhood Obesity in Lisbon, Portugal.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2010 Uniting Against Childhood Obesity Conference in Houston, TX.

Food & Health Resources