Diabetes and Obesity

Diabetes and obesity are both increasing at epidemic rates in the US. According to the CDC, a person is considered overweight or obese if they exceed a certain weight range for a given height or if their body mass index (BMI), which defines the amount of body fat corresponding to a certain height and weight, exceeds a certain number. For an adult who is 5’9’’ tall, a weight range of 169 to 202 lbs and a BMI of 25 to 29.9 is considered overweight . For that same adult who is 5’9’’ tall, a range of 203lbs or more and a BMI of 30 or higher is considered obese.

In the US, between 2009 -2010, 68.8% of adults were overweight or obese and 31.8% of children and adolescents were overweight or obese. In this same population, 35.7% of adults and 16.9% of children, age 2 to 19 are obese. This means that there were 78 million adults and 12.5 million children considered obese. Obesity increases the risk of heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes and is cited as the #2 cause of preventable death in the United States.

This epidemic of obesity in the US is having an even greater impact on the African American community. African American women have the highest rate of being overweight or obese compared to other groups in the US. About 4 out of 5 African American women are overweight or obese. In 2010, African Americans were 1.4 times more likely to be obese as non-Hispanic whites. In 2010, African Americans were 70% more likely to be obese than non-Hispanic White women. African American girls were 80% more likely to be overweight than non-Hispanic White girls.

Obesity raises the risks of numerous diseases and it is estimated that more than 80% of people with type 2 diabetes are overweight. People who are overweight are more likely to suffer from high blood pressure and have higher risk factors for heart disease and stroke. The health impact of obesity on African Americans is even more pronounced. Deaths from heart disease and stroke are almost twice the rate for African Americans as compared to whites. With this explosion of diabetes, it is projected that there will be as many as 7.9 million new cases of diabetes per year, compared to 1.99 million new cases in recent years.

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