Obesity intervention among African-American children and adolescents

Pediatr Clin North Am. 2001 Aug;48(4):1027-39. doi: 10.1016/s0031-3955(05)70355-2.


Often, researchers and clinicians approach the African-American community from a deficit model with African Americans viewed as having less desirable health practices and higher disease risk; however, in developing interventions for African Americans, it is important to keep in mind positive aspects of black culture as they relate to obesity. For example, the cultural acceptance of a larger body type and less negative views toward overweight individuals need not be viewed as problematic or abnormal. In fact, it could be argued that majority culture has a dysfunctional view of body image and obesity. The fact that whites are less likely to be overweight than African Americans may stem from a value system that places undue emphasis on thinness, youth, and external beauty and a culture that imbues women with shame about how they look and what they eat. Thus, rather than holding whites and majority culture as the ideal, it may be important to incorporate the positive elements of black culture regarding body image and food rather than attempting to shift their values toward those of European Americans. How best to achieve a reduction in obesity and its medical consequences, without inducing undesirable shifts in body image and attitudes toward food, is a formidable but important challenge.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • African Americans*
  • African Continental Ancestry Group*
  • Child
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Metabolism / physiology
  • Obesity / ethnology*
  • Obesity / physiopathology
  • Obesity / prevention & control*
  • Obesity / psychology
  • Research
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • United States / epidemiology