214720 South Asian immigrant perspectives on overweight, obesity, and the relationship between weight and health

Tuesday, November 9, 2010 : 2:30 PM - 2:45 PM

Joyce Tang, MD , Institute for Healthcare Studies, Northwestern University, Chicago, IL
Maryann Mason, PhD , Children's Memorial Research Center/Northwestern University, ARCC Steering Committee Member, Chicago, IL
Robert Kushner, MD , Department of Medicine, Division of General Internal Medicine, Northwestern University, Chicago, IL
Namratha R. Kandula, MD, MPH , Division of General Internal Medicine, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, IL
Background: South Asians may be more likely than other U.S. populations to underestimate their weight status and weight-related health risks due to the lower Body Mass Index (BMI) cut-offs recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) for overweight/obesity among Asian populations. Objective: To describe among a U.S. South Asian population actual as compared with perceived weight status, perceptions of ideal weight and perceived impact of weight on health. Methods: South Asian adults in Chicago, IL were interviewed in English, Hindi, and Urdu. Participants were asked: (1) what do you think about your weight, (2) what do you think your ideal weight range should be, and (3) do you think that your weight affects your health; if yes, how? Participants' weight and height were measured. Based on WHO recommendations, overweight was defined as BMI 23-27.4kg/m2 and obese as BMI >27.5kg/m2. Results: Participants (N=75) were 51% male, mean age 46, 60% recent immigrants. Eighty-six percent (66/75) of participants were overweight/obese. Sixty-four percent of overweight (14/22) and 18% of obese participants (5/28) perceived their weight to be normal. Seventy percent of participants indicated ideal weights corresponding to BMI >23kg/m2. Seventy-three percent (19/26) of overweight and 26% (9/34) of obese participants felt their weight did not affect their health. Many participants cited weight-related physical problems, but few connected overweight with development of chronic diseases. Conclusion: South Asians in the U.S. underestimate their weight status and the impact of overweight on risk for chronic diseases. Weight loss interventions among South Asians should reform these misperceptions.

Learning Areas:
Chronic disease management and prevention

Learning Objectives:
1. Discuss the discrepancy between perceived and actual weight status among South Asians. 2. Describe South Asian perceptions of the impact of weight on health.

Keywords: Obesity, Asian Americans

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a physician researcher in the area of overweight and obesity.
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.