Obesity in African Americans: Prevention and Therapy | Free Essay Example

Obesity in African Americans: Prevention and Therapy

Words: 1437
Topic: Health & Medicine

Due to the rapid development of technology and innovations, specialists working in the field of healthcare are provided with an opportunity to improve the quality of life of their patients and reduce the manifestation of symptoms preventing the latter from fulfilling their everyday tasks successfully. Despite the seeming progress, the situation related to some diseases that are not perceived as grave conditions can still be regarded as an important threat to the level of health of people in the United States.

Obesity can be listed among the brightest examples of such conditions – it is discussed on a daily basis, but the state of things has not significantly improved yet. Nowadays, the share of obese adults exceeds thirty-five percent of the adult population in the United States; worse still, it is difficult to imagine such situation in connection with other diseases leading to critical consequences if not treated.

Considering the importance of the topic for the entire humanity, researchers do their best to understand how to reduce factors causing obesity. Causing a range of consequences decreasing the quality of life, the problem of obesity becomes even more complicated when combined with issues faced by racial minorities in the United States. Nowadays, according to the official statistics, African American people present the group of American citizens which is the most susceptible to obesity. To answer the research question, it is important to review the findings reported by previous researchers in the field; the reviewed studies touch upon different questions relevant to the study. The latter include current situation with obesity in the United States and the proved effectiveness of particular interventions allowing to decrease obesity rates.

Prevalence of Obesity

The first group of sources chosen for the review is focused on the problem of obesity in the United States and the prevalence of obesity among different groups of the population. The report prepared by Fakhouri, Ogden, Carroll, Kit, and Flegal (2012) can be regarded as a source of the credible information as it is based on the data retrieved with the help of national health surveys. The report provides detailed information in order to describe the situation with obesity seven years ago, and this data allows us to make a conclusion on the severity of situation for African Americans. The findings that the group of older adults was at increased risks of the disease as more than thirty percent of participants in this age category were obese.

The increase in prevalence of obesity among older adults has been registered when the data retrieved by the researchers was compared to the one collected at the beginning of the century. Stating the problem of obesity among elderly people, the researchers claim that the solution has to be found as soon as possible as the number of older adults is going to double in the next decades which would lead to an increased demand for specialized healthcare services.

Regarding the prevalence of obesity in connection with race, no statistically significant differences were found for men. At the same time, obvious differences were found for women; the share of obese African-American women exceeded 53% whereas the situation for white women of the same age was not so severe (39% of obese people) even though this index is still high. Findings reported in the next survey reviewed for the paper are related to the period from 2011 to 2014 and some of them indicate that the problem is still growing. As reported by Ogden, Carroll, Fryar, and Flegal (2015), during that period of time, the number of obese adult people was 36% and women turned out to be more susceptible to the disease than men again.

As is clear from the report, there were about 37% of obese older adults; if these results are compared to ones presented in the previously discussed report, it is clear that the prevalence of obesity among older adults has increased. The findings included in the source also touch upon the connection between obesity rates and ethnicity. The second report demonstrates that the situation has not changed significantly; according to the results of the survey, about 48% of African American people and more than 34% of white Americans were obese in the period from 2011 to 2014.

The previous report showing the results for the period from 2007 to 2010 indicated that the number of obese African American women in the group of older adults was the highest. In case of the report indicating more recent results, the number of obese people in this group increased even more and was almost 57%. As is clear from this data, the problem of obesity has become more severe recently, and additional attention should be paid to implementation of obesity prevention measures for older African Americans.

Obesity Prevention and Treatment

The second group of sources that are relevant for the paper includes the research articles discussing various methods of obesity prevention and treatment in different groups of population. Based on the information retrieved from the sources, it is possible to presuppose whether the proposed intervention will be effective. The topic of motivational interviewing for obesity prevention is studied in the research article by Resnicow et al. (2015).

Even though the study presents credible results, it focuses on childhood obesity that has its own characteristics; therefore, the measures that are good for children are not necessarily effective for older adults. The effectiveness of MI in pediatrics is not a thoroughly studied topic. The researchers introduced three types of interventions aimed at reducing obesity among children; the first one included usual care whereas the second one was focused on MI delivered by healthcare providers.

The third type of intervention included the combination of practices used in the second type with sessions conducted by registered dieticians. The results of the experiment indicate that the third intervention was the most effective in reducing body mass index of obese and overweight children. Sbruzzi et al. (2013) also confirm the effectiveness of educational interventions for treatment of obesity; unlike the previous authors, they have checked their hypothesis with the help of the literature review. Their article reviews 26 studies including more than 23 thousand of participants; in terms of prevention studies reviewed, no significant differences in outcomes were identified. The situation was much more promising in relation to measures used for treatment; thus, implementation of interventions including patient education was associated with health improvements related to body mass index and blood pressure.

Therefore, the effectiveness of MI and educational interventions in case of childhood obesity is confirmed. Considering that the proposed study will include people with different BMI, studies related to severely obese individuals should also be included. The article by Unick et al. (2013) studies the methods to treat individuals with BMI exceeding 40 in their experiment, more than five thousand participants belonging to different categories of obese people were treated with the help of lifestyle intervention. The outcomes of the lifestyle intervention were different for various groups of participants, and a great part of severely obese individuals has managed to lose weight.

Summarizing the findings of studies devoted to the topic, it needs to be said that the effectiveness of educational intervention for both prevention and treatment of obesity has been confirmed in the sources. At the same time, the last study reports no effectiveness of lifestyle intervention for prevention of obesity, but this fact will not influence the research as only obese individuals will be included in the sample.


In the end, the reviewed studies devoted to prevalence of obesity show significant differences in obesity rates for various ethnic groups – according to the survey results, African American people (especially women) are the most susceptible to obesity, and the percentage of obese people in this group continues to grow. Other studies included in the review focus on interventions used to reduce obesity in children and adults; studying the effectiveness of different interventions (MI and patient education provided by nurses and dieticians), the researchers confirm that all of them make a positive contribution to health condition of obese patients and reduce their BMI.

Possible gaps in research relevant to the proposed study include the lack of knowledge on effectiveness of the studied interventions in connection with ethnicity of participants. Moreover, there is a need of studies identifying and explaining factors that cause differences in obesity rates among various ethnicities as these problems should be addressed while designing educational intervention for African American participants. Despite that, the reviewed studies are significant for the field as they help specialists in nursing to find the right direction to decrease obesity rates among patients from different age groups.


Fakhouri, T. H., Ogden, C. L., Carroll, M. D., Kit, B. K., & Flegal, K. M. (2012). Prevalence of obesity among older adults in the United States, 2007-2010. US Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics Data Briefs, 106(1), 1-8.

Ogden, C. L., Carroll, M. D., Fryar, C. D., &Flegal, K. M. (2015). Prevalence of obesity among adults and youth: United States, 2011-2014. US Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics Data Briefs, 219(1), 1-8.

Resnicow, K., McMaster, F., Bocian, A., Harris, D., Zhou, Y., Snetselaar, L.,… Hollinger, D. (2015). Motivational interviewing and dietary counseling for obesity in primary care: An RCT. Pediatrics, 135(4), 649-657.

Sbruzzi, G., Eibel, B., Barbiero, S. M., Petkowicz, R. O., Ribeiro, R. A., Cesa, C. C.,… Schaan, B. D. (2013). Educational interventions in childhood obesity: A systematic review with meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials. Preventive Medicine, 56(5), 254-264.

Unick, J. L., Beavers, D., Bond, D. S., Clark, J. M., Jakicic, J. M., Kitabchi, A. E.,… Wing, R. R. (2013). The long-term effectiveness of a lifestyle intervention in severely obese individuals. The American Journal of Medicine, 126(3), 236-242.