My 2004 public health graduate thesis topic was the “Association Between Low Socioeconomic Status, Race, and the Increasing Incidence of Childhood Obesity.” I was admonished by many for pin-pointing race as a predictor of obesity. At the time no one wanted to admit that there was a disparity between racial cohorts because they were more worried about being politically correct than recognizing that Hispanic and African-American children bore a greater risk of disease burden.
Now, 5 years later, 20% of 4-year-olds are obese. Not teenagers, not elementary school age children, toddlers. A diagnosis of obesity under the age of 5 is highly correlated with obesity as a teen and then as an adult. By turning a blind eye instead of admitting to the problem at hand, minority children have been effectively doomed to a life of co-morbidities and early mortality.
Specific interventions need to be made that target minority communities. Lack of available grocery stores, unsafe neighborhoods, and drastic cuts in physical education funding in urban schools all contribute to the dismal statistics sited in the linked article. It’s time that we stop ignoring the numbers and facing facts.