Pacific Islanders in Utah Have High Obesity Rates, Low Rates of Obesity-Related Disease, Report Finds
Pacific Islanders in Utah are twice as likely to be obese than the general population but do not seem to have an increased risk for obesity-related diseases, according to a report released on Wednesday by the Utah Department of Health, the Salt Lake Tribune reports. The report is part of a research series the state released that examines racial health disparities. According to the report, 49% of Pacific Islanders in Utah are obese, compared with 21% of all Utah residents.
After adjusting for age, researchers found Pacific Islanders have the same rates of obesity-related diseases as the general Utah population, according to the Tribune. Utah Pacific Islanders are younger than the general population, according to April Young Bennett of the health department's Center for Multicultural Health. Bennett said in Utah, the group's higher adult obesity rate is linked to high infant mortality and gestational diabetes rates.
While obesity is linked with diabetes, stroke and heart disease, national data indicate that overweight Pacific Islanders are less likely to die of coronary heart disease, cancer or to have diabetes, the Tribune reports. National studies have attributed higher obesity rates among Pacific Islanders to genetics and a cultural preference for larger bodies.
Lynda Blades, a grant coordinator for the health department, said the state will use a $5 million grant to target Pacific Islanders, holding focus groups to understand behavioral and community barriers that prevent group members from having healthy weights (May, Salt Lake Tribune, 1/28).
The report is available online (.pdf).