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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Office of Minority Health

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Obesity and African Americans

  • African American women have the highest rates of obesity or being overweight compared to other groups in the United States. About 4 out of 5 African American women are overweight or obese.
  • In 2018, non-Hispanic blacks were 1.3 times more likely to be obese as compared to non-Hispanic whites.
  • In 2018, African American women were 50 percent more likely to be obese than non-Hispanic white women.
  • From 2013-2016, non-Hispanic black females were 2.3 times more likely to be overweight as compared to non-Hispanic white females.
  • People who are overweight are more likely to suffer from high blood pressure, high levels of blood fats, diabetes and LDL cholesterolall risk factors for heart disease and stroke.1
  • In 2018, African Americans were 20 percent less likely to engage in active physical activity as compared to non-Hispanic whites.

 

Age-adjusted percentage of persons 20 years of age and over who were overweight or obese, 2013-2016. (Body Mass Index (BMI) of 25 or greater)
  Non-Hispanic Black Non-Hispanic White Non-Hispanic Black / Non-Hispanic White Ratio
Men 70.6 75.3 0.9
Women 80.6 64.8 1.2
Total 76.1 69.8 1.1

Source: CDC 2019. Health United States, 2018. Table 26.
https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/hus/hus18.pdf [PDF | 1.56MB]

 

Age-adjusted percentage of overweight persons 20 years of age and over who were obese, 2013-2016. (Body Mass Index (BMI) of 30 or greater)
  Non-Hispanic Black Non-Hispanic White Non-Hispanic Black / Non-Hispanic White Ratio
Men 38.0 37.0 1.0
Women 56.0 37.9 1.5
Total 47.9 37.4 1.3

Source: CDC 2019. Health United States, 2018. Table 26.
https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/hus/hus18.pdf [PDF | 1.56MB]

 

Age-adjusted percentage of persons 18 years of age and over who were overweight but not obese, 2018. (Body Mass Index (BMI) of 25 or greater)
  Non-Hispanic Black Non-Hispanic White Non-Hispanic Black / Non-Hispanic
White Ratio
Men 34.7 40.0 0.9
Women 30.9 27.7 1.1
Total 30.0 33.9 0.9

Source: CDC 2020. Summary Health Statistics: National Health Interview Survey: 2018. Table A-15a.
https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nhis/shs/tables.htm

 

Age-adjusted percentage of persons 18 years of age and over who were obese, 2018. (Body Mass Index (BMI) of 30 or greater)
  Non-Hispanic Black Non-Hispanic White Non-Hispanic Black / Non-Hispanic
White Ratio
Men 31.2 31.2 1.0
Women 44.2 28.7 1.5
Total 38.3 30.0 1.3

Source: CDC 2020. Summary Health Statistics: National Health Interview Survey: 2018. Table A-15a.
https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nhis/shs/tables.htm

 

CHILDREN

Percentage of obesity among children and adolescents 6–11 years of age, 2013-2016
  Non-Hispanic Black Non-Hispanic White Non-Hispanic Black / Non-Hispanic White Ratio
Females 24.1 10.4 2.3
Males 15.5 17.3 0.9
Total 19.8 14.0 1.4

Source: CDC 2019. Health United States, 2018. Table 27.
https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/hus/hus18.pdf [PDF | 1.56MB]

 

Percentage of obese children and adolescents 6-17 years of age. 2013-2016
Non-Hispanic Black Non-Hispanic White Non-Hispanic Black / Non-Hispanic White Ratio
23.5 15.5 1.5

Source:  Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics. America's Children: Key National Indicators of well-Being. 2019. Table HEALTH7
https://www.childstats.gov/americaschildren/tables/health7.asp

 

Percentage of children age 2-17 for whom a doctor or other health provider ever gave advice about the amount and kind of physical activity, United States, 2016
Non-Hispanic Black Non-Hispanic White Non-Hispanic Black / Non-Hispanic White Ratio
44.1 47.5 0.9

Source: National Healthcare Quality and Disparities Reports. Data Query: Table 7_2_1_6_1.2b [Accessed 03/03/2020]
https://nhqrnet.ahrq.gov/inhqrdr/data/query

 

Percentage of children age 2-17 for whom a doctor or other health provider ever gave advice about eating healthy, United States, 2016
Non-Hispanic Black Non-Hispanic White Non-Hispanic Black / Non-Hispanic White Ratio
63.8 63.7 1.0

Source: National Healthcare Quality and Disparities Reports. Data Query: Table 7_2_1_8_1.2b [Accessed 03/03/2020]
https://nhqrnet.ahrq.gov/inhqrdr/data/query

 

ADOLESCENTS

Percentage of high school students who were overweight, 2017
  Non-Hispanic Black Non-Hispanic White Non-Hispanic Black / Non-Hispanic White Ratio
Females 20.8 14.3 1.5
Males 14.8 13.6 1.1
Total 17.8 14.0 1.3

Source: CDC 2020. High School Youth Risk Behavior Survey Data.
https://nccd.cdc.gov/youthonline. [Accessed 03/03/2020]

 

Percentage of high school students who were obese, 2017
  Non-Hispanic Black Non-Hispanic White Non-Hispanic Black / Non-Hispanic White Ratio
Females 16.7 10.3 1.6
Males 19.7 14.8 1.3
Total 18.2 12.5 1.5

Source: CDC 2020. High School Youth Risk Behavior Survey Data.
https://nccd.cdc.gov/youthonline. [Accessed 03/03/2020]

 

HEALTH IMPACT OF OBESITY

Percentage of inactive physical activity among adults 18 years of age and over, 2018
(Did not meet federal physical activity guidelines)
Non-Hispanic Black Non-Hispanic White Non-Hispanic Black / Non-Hispanic White Ratio
50.3 38.9 1.3

Source: CDC 2020. Summary Health Statistics: National Health Interview Survey: 2018. Table A-14a.
https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nhis/shs/tables.htm

 

Percentage of some leisure-time physical activity among adults 18 years of age and over, 2018
(Met aerobic guidelines only)
Non-Hispanic Black Non-Hispanic White Non-Hispanic Black / Non-Hispanic White Ratio
45.8 57.5 0.8

Source: CDC 2020. Summary Health Statistics: National Health Interview Survey: 2018. Table A-14a.
https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nhis/shs/tables.htm

 

Percentage of regular leisure-time physical activity among adults 18 years of age and over, 2018
(Met federal physical activity guidelines)
Non-Hispanic Black Non-Hispanic White Non-Hispanic Black / Non-Hispanic White Ratio
20.0 25.8 0.8

Source: CDC 2020. Summary Health Statistics: National Health Interview Survey: 2018. Table A-14a.
https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nhis/shs/tables.htm

 

Percentage of adults 18 years of age and over who were obese and were given advice to exercise more, United States, 2016
Non-Hispanic Black Non-Hispanic White Non-Hispanic Black / Non-Hispanic White Ratio
65.1 62.1 1.0

Source: National Healthcare Quality and Disparities Reports. Data Query: Table 7_2_1_5_1.2b [Accessed 03/03/2020]
https://nhqrnet.ahrq.gov/inhqrdr/data/query

 

Percent of adults 18 years of age and over who were obese and were given advice about eating fewer high fat or high cholesterol foods, United States, 2016
Non-Hispanic Black Non-Hispanic White Non-Hispanic Black / Non-Hispanic White Ratio
48.2 46.5 1.0

Source: National Healthcare Quality and Disparities Reports. Data Query: Table 7_2_1_7_1.2b [Accessed 03/03/2020]
https://nhqrnet.ahrq.gov/inhqrdr/data/query

 

RISK FACTORS

Obesity is a risk factor for several diseases. For statistics on these related diseases, see:

Diabetes – See Diabetes and African Americans
Heart Disease – See Heart Disease and African Americans
Stroke – See Stroke and African Americans


1Source: https://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/effects/index.html

Last Modified: 3/26/2020 8:51:00 PM