Overweight black Americans are two to three times more likely than heavy white Americans to say they are of average weight – even after being diagnosed as overweight or obese by their doctors, according to a new study led by Dana-Farber Cancer Institute researchers.
Weight misperception was most common among black men and women, and also was found among Hispanic men (but not women), compared to their white counterparts. The findings, which appear in the current online issue of the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, are significant because excess body weight is a known risk factor for diabetes, heart disease, many forms of cancer, and premature death.
Growing concern over the national obesity epidemic in recent years apparently has not significantly increased overweight blacks’ recognition of their excess pounds, said lead author Gary G. Bennett of Dana-Farber’s Center for Community-Based Research and of the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston.
The report by Bennett and Kathleen Y. Wolin of Northwestern University is based on an analysis of data collected in the National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey (NHANES), a government-sponsored research study begun in the 1960s. It includes both interviews and physical examinations carried out by mobile units across the country.