High Risk Ethnic Groups

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Cross-sectional population-based estimates of obesity prevalence at 6 to 19 years of age are available for U.S. children and adolescents overall, and specifically for non-Hispanic blacks, non-Hispanic whites, and Mexican Americans (Figure 2-4).4

Although obesity is prevalent among children and youth throughout the entire population, Hispanic, non-Hispanic black, and Native-American children and adolescents are disproportionately affected when compared to the general population (Ogden et al., 2002a). With both sexes combined, up to 24 percent of non-Hispanic black and Mexican-American adolescents are above the 95th percentile. Among boys, the highest prevalence of obesity is observed in Mexican Americans and among girls, the highest prevalence is observed in non-Hispanic blacks (Ogden et al., 2002a). American-

3There are no BMI-for-age references or accepted definitions for children younger than 2 years of age. Weight-for-length greater than the 95th percentile is used by the CDC and the WIC program to define overweight in children under 2 years of age (see Chapter 3).

4Standard terms used in the NHANES series include non-Hispanic whites, non-Hispanic blacks, and Mexican Americans. The ethnic and racial categories discussed throughout this chapter use those that specific researchers used for different data sets. This report generally uses the terms African Americans to refer to non-Hispanic blacks; Hispanics to refer to Mexican Americans and populations from other Latin-American countries of Hispanic descent; American Indians to refer to Native Americans; and whites to refer to non-Hispanic whites. The report also uses the term Asian/Pacific Islanders (which includes Native Hawai-ians).

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