Obesity Higher among Middle-Aged, African-Americans

September 8, 2010

Middle-aged and African-American adults are more likely to be obese than Americans of other ages or ethnic groups, according to a new data from the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index.

According to Gallup-Healthways Daily tracking data collected between January-August 2010, an average of 26.7% of adult Americans are obese, based on their self-reported height and weight. This is on par with the 26.5% in 2009, but up significantly from 25.5% in 2008. Following is a look at how obesity rates fluctuate by age bracket and ethnicity.

45-to-64-Yr-Olds Most Likely to be Obese
Roughly 3 in 10 Americans aged 45 to 64 are obese, more than in any other age group. Among Americans aged 18 to 29, 18.2% are obese. This shoots up 10 percentage points to 28.3% among 30- to 44-year-olds. Obesity then creeps slightly higher among middle-aged Americans to 30.8% before dropping off to 24.7%among seniors 65 and older.

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Obesity Disproportionately High Among Black Americans of All Ages
No matter their race, middle-aged Americans are consistently the most likely to be obese when compared with those in other age groups. Also, black and Hispanic Americans within every age group are more obese than Americans overall, while whites and Asians are below the national average.

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More broadly, black Americans aged 45 to 64 are the most likely of any of the racial and ethnic groups used in this analysis, at any age, to be obese, at 41%. With an obesity rate of 34.5%, Hispanic Americans in this age group have the third-highest rate of any combined age-racial group, only trailing black Americans 30-44 (39%).

In contrast, Asian Americas have obesity rates far below the national average, peaking at 10% for those 65 and older. White adults in each age bracket track slightly below national averages for obesity.

Moving Forward
While Gallup finds obesity rates on the rise across the US, certain key groups bring up the high national average of 26.7%. Helping black, Hispanic, and middle-aged Americans reduce their weight is thus critical to meeting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s goal of lowering obesity prevalence to 15%. Only Asian Americans currently meet this goal.

High obesity rates among black and Hispanic Americans are in part reflective of socioeconomic differences apparent within these groups. Access to healthy foods, a place to exercise, and increased education are all important targets for decreasing obesity levels among these groups.

Adult Obesity Rises in US
Nationally, two-thirds of adults and nearly one-third of children and teens are currently obese or overweight, according to data from the Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Rates of obesity continued to rise across the nation during the past year. Twenty-eight states saw a significant increase in obesity, and 15 of these states experienced an increase for the second year in a row. Eleven states experienced an increase for the third straight year. Only in Washington, DC did obesity rates significantly decrease over the past year.

About the Data: Results are based on telephone interviews with a random sample of 218,256 adults, aged 18 and older, conducted Jan. 1-Aug. 25, 2010, as part of the Gallup Healthways Well-Being Index.

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