197313 BMI among Hmong adults: Characteristics & Implications

Monday, November 9, 2009: 1:00 PM

Moon S. Chen, PhD, MPH , Department of Internal Medicine, UC Davis, University of California, Davis Cancer Center, Sacramento, CA
Susan Stewart, PhD , UCSF Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of California-San Francisco, San Francisco, CA
Dao M. Fang, MSW , Kashia Health Program, Hmong Women's Heritage Association, Sacramento, CA
Julia Nicholas , Department of Internal Medicine, UC Davis, University of California, Davis Cancer Center, Sacramento, CA
BMI among 150 Hmong adults: Characteristics & implications for health

Background/significance: Body mass index (BMI) is a measure based on weight for height (kg/m2) to classify overweight and obesity in adults. BMI values are used to depict health risks, with BMIs at the highest levels suggesting increased risk for chronic diseases and at the lowest levels suggesting underweight. While the World Health Organization (WHO) considers a BMI of >25 to be “overweight” and > 30 to be “obese” in general, WHO proposes that the BMI cut-points for “obesity” among Asians be lower, with values > 23 classified as “overweight” and > 27.5 as “obese”.

Objective/purpose: We measured heights and weights of 150 Hmong adults during home visits as part of a research study and computed BMIs in order to assess the prevalence of overweight and obesity.

Results: The median BMI for Hmong men was 26.4 (n=69) and for women was 26.3 (n=81). Using the WHO cut-points for Asians, 36% of Hmong adults in our study were “obese” (BMI >27.5) and 79% were “overweight” or “obese” (BMI >23). Higher BMI was associated with older age (p=0.008); birthplace in Laos (p=0.0004)); eating a traditional Hmong diet (p=0.054); and less than good perceived health (p=0.023). Non-significant associations were found with gender; education; employment; year of immigration; physical activity; income; Hmong language fluency; and proportion of life in the U.S.

Discussion/conclusions: These data provide empirical evidence of higher chronic disease risk among Hmong that should be followed by qualitative inquiries into determinants of obesity.

Learning Objectives:
1. Report statistically significant variables based on analyses of BMI data and selected demographic characteristics of 150 Hmong adults enrolled in an ongoing research study on liver cancer. 2. Discuss the implications of these data for health disparities and interventions.

Keywords: Asian Americans, Chronic Diseases

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I direct the study.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.