Washington, D.C., Has Highest Black-White Obesity Gap Among 164 Jurisdictions, Report Finds
The obesity gap between blacks and whites in Washington, D.C., is the widest of 164 jurisdictions examined by Vanderbilt University researchers, according to a study presented on Monday at the annual meeting of the American Public Health Association, the Washington Post reports.
For the study, researcher David Schlundt and colleagues analyzed data collected from states and Washington, D.C., for a national health behavior survey. The data, from 2001 through 2005, included information on more than 367,000 people. Researchers found that in Washington, D.C., the obesity rate for blacks was 31%, compared with 8% for whites. Schlundt said, "What we can say is that Washington is a poster child for disparities, and they're great here." He said that education, income, culture and the urban environment might be factors behind the gap.
Denver; Richmond, Va.; Tallahassee, Fla.; and New York City are among the top 10 cities with the highest black-white obesity gaps, according to the report. U.S. residents living in the rural South were more likely than others to be obese regardless of race. For example, in St. Mary Parish, La., nearly one in three white residents is obese.
In addition, whites living in counties that surround Detroit and Gary, Ind., have at least a 26% obesity rate, and blacks in Memphis and its surrounding counties, as well as in Delaware County, Pa., have obesity rates of at least 43%.
According to the researchers, the report is not a definitive or comprehensive view of the overall obesity problem in the U.S. "It's more of a 'proof of concept'" that shows differences between rural and urban and North and South, Schlundt said. He said researchers hope the findings will "get people to look more at how place matters" to the issue of obesity and "ultimately ... get humans to look at what can be done to make our cities, our towns, our rural areas healthier" (Levine, Washington Post, 11/6).