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J Community Health. 2014 Dec;39(6):1150-60. doi: 10.1007/s10900-014-9870-6.

Long term trends and racial/ethnic disparities in the prevalence of obesity.

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  • 1Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Liver Transplant Program, Department of Medicine, Stanford University Medical Center, 750 Welch Road, Suite 210, Palo Alto, CA, 94304, USA.


Obesity is an epidemic associated with higher rates of hypertension, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases. However, significant racial disparities in the prevalence of obesity have been reported. To evaluate racial disparities and trends in the prevalence of obesity and obesity-related diseases. A population-based retrospective cohort study utilized data from the 1985 to 2011 California Behavioral Risk Factor Survey. Trends in obesity prevalence were stratified by age, sex, race/ethnicity, and socioeconomic factors. Multivariate logistic regression models evaluated independent predictors of obesity. The prevalence of obesity in significantly increased from 1985 to 2011 (8.6 vs. 22.8%, p < 0.001). This increase was seen among men and women, and among all race/ethnic, age, and socioeconomic groups. Hypertension and diabetes also increased during this time period (hypertension 20.7-35.9%; diabetes 4.2-11.2%). Obesity prevalence was highest in blacks and Hispanics, and lowest in Asians (blacks 33.3%; Hispanics 28.8%; Asians 9.0%; p < 0.001). Obesity prevalence was associated with lower education level, lower income, and unemployment status. After adjustments for age, sex, co morbidities, and surrogates of socioeconomic status, the increased risk of obesity in blacks and Hispanics persisted (blacks OR 1.51; Hispanics OR 1.18), whereas Asians were less likely to be obese (OR 0.37). While the overall prevalence of obesity increased from 1985 to 2011, significant racial/ethnic disparities in obesity have developed, with the highest prevalence seen in blacks and Hispanics, and the lowest seen in Asians.

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