The Cost of Obesity

The increasing rate of obesity in the United States is getting lots of attention. Unfortunately, much of the conversation oversimplifies the issue as purely about diet and exercise. In reality, higher body weights stem from a complex combination of reasons still not entirely understood.

What is clear is that much of the shift is societal or systemic in nature and about much more than individual habits. Statistics show obesity affects members of groups with varying social statuses in different ways. Notably, obesity is disproportionately common among black women.

That alone isn’t inherently significant: Body weight itself is not an indicator of health, and plenty of Americans fit the narrowly defined parameters for obesity without facing health issues. For others, however, obesity can coexist with metabolic disturbances, cardiovascular problems, and diabetes.

It’s in those instances that the disparity in obesity rates between black women and other groups become particularly relevant. According to the American Psychological Association, almost 60 percent of black women are obese, compared to 41 percent of Hispanic women and 32 percent of white women.

There are a variety of reasons for these variations. Due to the