Friday, November 25, 2011

Obesity among Utah Pacific Islanders

A brief report by the Utah Department of Health (UDOH), Office of Health Disparities Reduction, included in the November Utah Health Status Update, finds that many obese, Utah Pacific Islanders are not aware that they are obese. 


The UDOH, Office of Health Disparities Reduction recently surveyed 605 Utah adult Pacific Islanders and found that 63.6% (58.9-68.0) were obese, which is defined as a body mass index (BMI) over 30. The statewide obesity rate was 23.1% (21.9-24.3; 2010 BRFSS).

However, some studies have suggested that Pacific Islanders can be healthy at a larger BMI than can be tolerated by people of European descent (1). Researchers in New Zealand have developed a BMI scale specifically for people of Pacific Island descent (2). Using this scale, about half of Utah Pacific Islander adults (50.9%, 46.2-55.6) are still identified as obese.

Many overweight Pacific Islanders were not aware that they were overweight. Although only 15.1% of PIs were at healthy weight or low weight BMIs according to the PI-specific scale, 33.1% perceived their weight as healthy or underweight.

1. See http://apjcn.nhri.org.tw/server/apjcn/volume18/vol18.3/finished/13_1503_404-411.pdf and https://researchspace.auckland.ac.nz/bitstream/handle/2292/4675/15608799.pdf?sequence=1

2. According to the New Zealand Pacific Islander scale, overweight is a BMI higher than 26, instead of 25, and obese is a BMI higher than 32, instead of 30. See http://www.everybody.co.nz/tool-06fb03f0-0ebf-4c02-8551-c1db35f6fb7b.aspx

You can see the original report here: http://health.utah.gov/opha/publications/hsu/1111_Inductions.pdf

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