U.S. Blacks Suffer Disproportionately from Chronic Conditions

Dan Witters and Jade Wood, Gallup, December 26, 2014

Older Americans generally are more likely than their younger counterparts to be obese, with the rate peaking in middle age and then declining around retirement age. But for blacks in particular, obesity rates show even greater differences by age group. Between the ages of 18 to 29 and 45 to 64, blacks’ obesity rate ticks up 21 percentage points, compared with 16 points for Hispanics, 15 points for whites and five points for Asians.

Overall, in Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index data captured from Jan. 2, 2013 through Aug. 8, 2014, 27% of Americans are obese. Across the four major racial and ethnic groups, blacks have the highest obesity rate (35%) and Asians have the lowest (9%)–a pattern that has been consistent over time.

These results are based on interviews with more than 272,000 Americans conducted as part of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index. {snip}

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Unlike obesity rates, which hit their peak in middle age and then decrease among those older than 65, hypertension continues to be significantly more common among seniors. Young Americans start out on a relatively even playing field in terms of hypertension, with similar, very low, rates across all 18- to 29-year-olds. But by middle age, nearly half of blacks report having hypertension–roughly double the rates of Asians and Hispanics in the same age group. An even higher 70% of retirement-age blacks have or are being treated for high blood pressure, significantly greater than the rates seen for all other groups.

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