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Obesity and Ethnicity

There is no straightforward relationship between obesity and ethnicity, with a complex interplay of factors affecting health in minority ethnic communities in the UK. Apart from Health Survey for England (HSE) data from 2004, there is little nationally representative data on obesity prevalence in adults from minority ethnic groups in the UK. Data are scarce or non-existent for many smaller ethnic groups and only a few qualitative studies have focused on these communities.

There is continuing debate about the validity of using current definitions of obesity for non-white ethnic groups, for both adults and children. Different ethnic groups are associated with a range of different body shapes, and different physiological responses to fat storage. Revised Body Mass Index (BMI) thresholds and waist circumference measures have been recommended for South Asian populations who are at risk of chronic diseases and mortality at lower levels than European populations. In terms of public health action, it is particularly important for South Asian populations in the UK to be aware of the health risks of increased BMI and waist circumference.

There is continuing debate about the validity of using current definitions of obesity for non-white ethnic groups, for both adults and children. Different ethnic groups are associated with a range of different body shapes, and different physiological responses to fat storage. Revised Body Mass Index (BMI) thresholds and waist circumference measures have been recommended for South Asian populations who are at risk of chronic diseases and mortality at lower levels than European populations. In terms of public health action, it is particularly important for South Asian populations in the UK to be aware of the health risks of increased BMI and waist circumference.

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Obesity and Ethnicity