Race, Ethnicity, and Obesity

Renee E. Walker and Ichiro Kawachi

in The Oxford Handbook of the Social Science of Obesity

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9780199736362
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

Race, Ethnicity, and Obesity

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This chapter discusses the obesity disparities between racial and ethnic groups in the U.S. population, and reviews the evidence on the possible causes of these disparities, concentrating on the so-called “obesogenic” environment. An extensive literature demonstrates that in the overall U.S. population, lower income groups have the highest risk of obesity and of being overweight, particularly women. The chapter addresses the evidence on six of the “leading suspects” in explaining the patterns of racial and ethnic disparities in overweight and obesity. They are: (1) overeating as a maladaptive coping strategy; (2) occupational segregation by race and sleep patterns; (3) cultural norms and practices; (4) disparities rooted in the residential environment; (5) targeting of television-based marketing of foods; and (6) acculturation (in the case of immigrant Hispanic Americans). The same broad principles of obesity prevention apply to racial/ethnic minorities as among the general population.

Keywords: obesity; race; ethnicity; overeating; occupational segregation; acculturation

Article.  7771 words. 

Subjects: Economics ; Health, Education, and Welfare

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