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Am J Public Health. 1988 Oct;78(10):1326-9.

Ethnic differences in female overweight: data from the 1985 National Health Interview Survey.

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Division of Health Interview Statistics, National Center for Health Statistics, Hyattsville, MD 20782.


Ethnic differences in female overweight were analyzed using data from the 1985 National Health Interview Survey. The sample consisted of approximately 17,000 women, ages 18 and over. After adjusting for age and poverty status, there were clear differences in the proportions of women 20 per cent or more overweight among Black, Hispanic and other White women (35, 26 and 20 per cent, respectively). Black women were less likely than White women to perceive themselves as overweight when categorized by actual weight relative to ideal weight; however, within categories of weight relative to other women of the same ethnic group, all women not Hispanic were equally likely to consider themselves overweight. There was no difference by ethnicity in the proportion of women trying to lose weight among those who perceived themselves as overweight. These findings have implications for programs designed to modify weight, since they suggest that women use ethnic-specific standards in assessing overweight.

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