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Obes Res. 1996 Jul;4(4):377-84.

Comparisons for body mass index and body fat percent among Puerto Ricans, blacks, whites and Asians living in the New York City area.

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Department of Medicine, St. Lukes-Roosevelt Hospital Center, Columbia University, New York, NY, USA.


The latest data (NHANES III) from the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) show that the black population has the highest proportion of overweight among all adult populations in the United States. The present study compared the body mass index (BMI) and body fat percent from dual-photon absorptiometry in 1,324 healthy adults aged 18 to 107 years recruited from four ethnic groups in the New York City area; 523 whites, 280 blacks, 267 Asians and 254 Puerto Ricans. Puerto Ricans had the largest BMI and the largest percent of subjects with body weight more than 120% of their ideal weight, and the largest fat percent of the four ethnic groups: 76% of Puerto Rican males had fat percent above the median value for white males (fat percent = 19.6%) and 95% of Puerto Rican females had fat percent above the median for white females (fat percent = 30.8%). Asians had the smallest BMI, but 63% of them had fat percent above the median values for whites in each gender. Puerto Ricans also had the largest waist-to-hip ratios among the four ethnic groups. In blacks, the percent of subjects with fat percent larger than the median for whites was slightly smaller than that for Puerto Ricans, 64% and 82% of males and females respectively. These results differ from the latest NCHS data and show that Puerto Ricans in this sample are heavier and fatter than blacks.

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