Cultural Background & Obesity Linked

The University of California San Francisco has found evidence that a child’s cultural background determines their weight, and some backgrounds are more likely to have obese children than others.

Kristine A. Madsen, associate professor of pediatrics at UC San Francisco, and her colleagues performed the research on 8.3 million children from the 5th, 7th and 8th grades, with children who were aged between 8 – 17. A mandatory fitness assessment was taken and analysed by her and her team.

38% and 20% of the students were deemed overweight and obese, respectively. 3.6% were categorized as severely obese.

Girls who were black, Hispanic or American Indian were found to be 2-3 times more likely to be overweight than non-Hispanic whites. As well, the study found that since 2001 there has been an increase in obesity all in all girls regardless of background, except the non-Hispanic whites, which actually dropped.

What this study shows is that programs designed to cut obesity levels need to be aim at specific cultures and backgrounds. Obesity is currently the 2nd leading lifestyle cause of mortality, second behind smoking.

Madsen encourages school to take more of a role in educating children about health, lifestyle and maintaining a healthy weight and body.

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