Sunday, January 10, 2010

Race, ethnicity and obesity

According to a CDC report:

When results are considered by single race without regard to ethnicity, 55% of Asian adults were at a healthy weight compared with 37% of white adults, 29% of American Indian or Alaska Native adults, and 29% of black adults.

Black adults and American Indian or Alaska Native adults were about 3-4 times as likely to be obese as Asian adults. White adults were about three times as likely as Asian adults to be obese. When results are considered by single race and ethnicity, 36% of non-Hispanic black adults were obese compared with 31% of Hispanic adults and 26% of non-Hispanic white adults. Hispanic adults were more likely to be overweight (but not obese) than either non-Hispanic white or non-Hispanic black adults.

The last comparison is consistent with a comment made on this blog some time ago that Hispanics are more likely to be overweight, but not REALLY fat.


UPDATE: I know there are other reasons why people are overweight, but the racial ordering is consistent with other facts that suggest greater conscientiousness among Asian Americans.

5 comments:

wreaver said...

There's an important thing you are missing. People from Mongloid populations are more likely to be Ectomorphs.

(A "nutshell" explanation of what an Ectomorph is: Ectomorphs don't put on fat easily, but also don't put on muscle easily. Also note, being thin does NOT make one an Ectomorph. A conscientious Endomorph could be thin also.)

It's not just about being conscientiousness, because some people (who are Ectomorphs) really don't have to worry about being conscientious (and can potentially shove whenever they want into their face without becoming fat). Ectomorphs can actually eat a lot more without putting on fat.

People are not all born with the same body type. Like IQ, there is a hereditary component to body types.

Without controlling for body types (Somatotypes) you may not be observing conscientiousness, but instead observing differences in body type (Somatotype) frequencies in a population.

(Note I'm not trying to say some populations aren't more conscientious than others. Only that given that there exists different body types (Somatotypes) that this isn't a good way to establish that.)

Anonymous said...

The evidence is congruent with the hypothesis of greater conscientiousness among Asian Americans. The evidence is also congruent with the hypothesis of genetic differences in carbohydrate metabolism among different ethnic groups.
Gary Taubes in Good Calories, Bad Calories argues that consumption of excessive carbohydrates, rather than excessive calories, is the cause of obesity. He argues that carbohydrates cause insulin secretion and insulin is a fat storage hormone. Low carb diets (i.e. diets high in protein and fat like Atkins) work because avoiding insulin secretion avoids fat storage even with excessive calorie consumption.
People who have higher conscientiousness level would be more likely to follow government guidelines on diet. That is, a low fat, high carb diet. Such a diet causes weight gain.

Aya said...

Interesting, because Native Americans are essentially Asians. But plenty of NORTH Asians are big people. The Asians we tend to get as immigrants are from more southern areas.I suspect if most of our Asian immigrants were from Mongolia we would associate being Asian with being big.

Anonymous said...

I have friends far more conscientious than I have ever been, yet they are fat, and I am thin. My mother, aunt and grandma and her sisters, all thin. On my dad's side, he and his mother were thin while his sisters and father were fat. I think it has to be genetic and not behavior. It is possible to counter act a disposition to obesity, of course. I am over 40 and do little exercise, yet I still weigh what I did when I was 15. Little muscle and low weight; about the 4th %tile for my age and gender. I don't diet and I don't feel hungry. The more active I am, the hungrier I am but I never gain weight. It is genetic. Has to be.

wreaver said...

@Anonymous said,
"I have friends far more conscientious than I have ever been, yet they are fat, and I am thin. My mother, aunt and grandma and her sisters, all thin. On my dad's side, he and his mother were thin while his sisters and father were fat. I think it has to be genetic and not behavior. It is possible to counter act a disposition to obesity, of course. I am over 40 and do little exercise, yet I still weigh what I did when I was 15. Little muscle and low weight; about the 4th %tile for my age and gender. I don't diet and I don't feel hungry. The more active I am, the hungrier I am but I never gain weight. It is genetic. Has to be."

I'd guess that you are probably an Ectomorph. Ectomorphs don't really have to be conscientious to be thin. (They can basically shove whatever they want into their face without getting fat.)

(For Endomorphs and Mesomorphs though, they do indeed need to be conscientious to not get fat.)