Skip to main content

04-03-2018 | Obesity | Review | Article

Racial Disparities in Obesity Treatment

Current Obesity Reports

Authors: Angel S. Byrd, Alexander T. Toth, Fatima Cody Stanford

Publisher: Springer US


Purpose of Review

Obesity rates in the USA have reached pandemic levels with one third of the population with obesity in 2015–2016 (39.8% of adults and 18.5% of youth). It is a major public health concern, and it is prudent to understand the factors which contribute. Racial and ethnic disparities are pronounced in both the prevalence and treatment of obesity and must be addressed in the efforts to combat obesity.

Recent Findings

Disparities in prevalence of obesity in racial/ethnic minorities are apparent as early as the preschool years and factors including genetics, diet, physical activity, psychological factors, stress, income, and discrimination, among others, must be taken into consideration. A multidisciplinary team optimizes lifestyle and behavioral interventions, pharmacologic therapy, and access to bariatric surgery to develop the most beneficial and equitable treatment plans.


The reviewed studies outline disparities that exist and the impact that race/ethnicity have on disease prevalence and treatment response. Higher prevalence and reduced treatment response to lifestyle, behavior, pharmacotherapy, and surgery, are observed in racial and ethnic minorities. Increased research, diagnosis, and access to treatment in the pediatric and adult populations of racial and ethnic minorities are proposed to combat the burgeoning obesity epidemic and to prevent increasing disparity.

Please log in to get access to this content

Related topics