Today, the National Institutes of Health estimate that 65 percent of adult Americans are overweight with more than 9 million at least twice their ideal body weight (100 pounds heavier than they should be). A growing national epidemic, obesity rates have more than doubled in adults and children since the 1970’s.

April is National Minority Health Month and as it draws to a close, I wanted to share with you some important information. For varied and sometimes complex reasons, whether it is through heredity, diet or cultural norms, the incidence of obesity is higher among certain minority populations. For example, African-Americans have the highest rates of obesity (44.1%) in the United States, with Mexican-Americans a close second (39.3%). African-Americans are also at an increased risk for developing the chronic diseases associated with obesity, including cardiovascular disease, hypertension and diabetes.

Depending on your race, the statistics here may seem either frightening or falsely encouraging. But please make no mistake, NO ONE is immune to becoming obese and all overweight and obese adults have elevated risks for heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and some types of cancer, all of which are leading causes of preventable death.

The good news is that there are things you can do to lower your risk. Regular physical activity is extremely helpful in preventing obesity and maintaining weight loss. In addition, physical activity aids in the prevention of heart disease, helps control cholesterol levels and diabetes, slows bone loss associated with advancing age, lowers the risk of certain cancers, and can reduce anxiety and depression.

You don’t need special skills or training to be physically active. Walking is a great way to start. If you’re having trouble finding time to take a long walk, try breaking it up into three shorter walks throughout the day. You’ll do your best if you choose fitness activities that you enjoy and can fit into your daily life, and also if you have friends or family to join you for support. Many forms of physical activity can be social, allowing you to converse and spend time with loved ones or to even develop new relationships. The more the merrier, right?

The Office of Minority Health uses National Minority Health Month in April to raise awareness about health disparities that continue to affect racial and ethnic minorities, but don’t just file this information away as April comes to a close. I recommend staying informed and seeking out treatment if traditional dieting and exercise continue to fail you. Our Lite and Smart Dimensions™ practice offers an obesity support series to address treatment options and success factors that determine weight loss and maintenance. It also provides an overview of the physical, medical, psychological, cultural, genetic and behavioral contributors to obesity. The series is designed for people with a Body Mass Index of 35 or above and those who are 75 pounds or more overweight. Of course, an actual diagnosis of obesity should be made by a health professional, and you should consult a health care provider before starting any vigorous exercise programs. If you are interested in taking part in or would like more information about this program, contact us today.

For more information about minority health and obesity, check out the Surgeon General’s fact sheet, or visit The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Minority Health at and the Centers for Disease Control.