junkfoodHispanic/Latinos, African Americans and American Indians tend to gain weight earlier in life than European Americans, which suggests obesity prevention should be targeted to children and teens in these minority populations.

Researchers studied weight transition patterns in U.S. populations 18 years and older. They found:

  • At age 18, 49 percent to 73 percent of Americans were normal weight, with European/American females being most likely to maintain normal weight and American Indian females the least likely.
  • Between ages 18 and 30 years, the population of normal weight American Indian males decreased by almost 7 percent a year. Notable transitions to overweight and obesity starting at 18 were also seen in American Indian females, Hispanic/Latino males and African American females.
  • American Indian females were the most likely to be overweight at age 18.

For all populations, adults were more likely to go from overweight to obese than obese to overweight until their late middle ages. After that, there were small decreases in adults classified as obese.

Difficulties retaining normal body weight throughout life support evidence-based obesity prevention efforts targeted at children and adolescents, especially in these minority populations, researchers said.

 

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