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Washington Has Highest Black-White Obesity Gap

Armen Hareyan's picture

The obesity gap between blacks and whites in Washington, D.C., is the widest of 164 jurisdictions examined by Vanderbilt University researchers, according to a study presented on Monday at the annual meeting of the American Public Health Association, the Washington Post reports.

Forthe study, researcher David Schlundt and colleagues analyzed datacollected from states and Washington, D.C., for a national healthbehavior survey. The data, from 2001 through 2005, included informationon more than 367,000 people. Researchers found that in Washington,D.C., the obesity rate for blacks was 31%, compared with 8% for whites.Schlundt said, "What we can say is that Washington is a poster childfor disparities, and they're great here." He said that education,income, culture and the urban environment might be factors behind thegap.

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Denver; Richmond, Va.; Tallahassee, Fla.; and New York Cityare among the top 10 cities with the highest black-white obesity gaps,according to the report. U.S. residents living in the rural South weremore likely than others to be obese regardless of race. For example, inSt. Mary Parish, La., nearly one in three white residents is obese.

Inaddition, whites living in counties that surround Detroit and Gary,Ind., have at least a 26% obesity rate, and blacks in Memphis and itssurrounding counties, as well as in Delaware County, Pa., have obesityrates of at least 43%.

According to the researchers, the reportis not a definitive or comprehensive view of the overall obesityproblem in the U.S. "It's more of a 'proof of concept'" that showsdifferences between rural and urban and North and South, Schlundt said.He said researchers hope the findings will "get people to look more athow place matters" to the issue of obesity and "ultimately ... gethumans to look at what can be done to make our cities, our towns, ourrural areas healthier" (Levine, Washington Post, 11/6).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view theentire Kaiser WeeklyHealth Disparities Report,search the archives, and sign up for email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email. The Kaiser Weekly HealthDisparities Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of TheHenry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.