As we learn more about weight management, the impact of weight on overall health, and the impact of health outcomes on communities, it has never been more important to investigate new paths in weight management through clinical trials in diverse populations.
The terms overweight and obesity are used to describe when a person’s body weight is higher than what is healthy in relation to their height. It’s been wrongly believed that lack of willpower to eat healthy and work out cause weight management issues. But now, obesity is recognized as a disease. Many things other than diet and exercise can lead to obesity, like a person’s genes or environment.
Obesity may affect people of different ethnic or racial groups in different ways. Some ethnicities have a higher risk of developing health problems when dealing with obesity such as;
- Heart disease
- Type 2 diabetes
- Some types of cancer
This may be because some people can’t get the healthcare they need.
How does Ethnicity Play a Role with Body Weight?
Ethnicity can affect where fat is stored in the body. Data suggest that certain communities, for any given BMI level, might have higher body fat and risk of obesity-related complications than others. For this reason, the Body Mass Index (BMI) of a person from a certain racial or ethnic group may not give a correct measurement of someone’s body fat.
South Asians are at higher risk of developing health problems from fat build up around the body, when compared to white people with the same BMI. This is caused by genetics and environment. As a result, the World Health Organization (WHO) suggested lower BMI cut-off points for Asians.
Black women are more likely to have obesity than other groups. In the US, 58% of black women are living with obesity today, the highest rate compared to other ethnic groups in the country.
Obesity Deciding Factors
Social determinants of health (SDOH) can affect a person's risk of obesity and related health problems. These SDOH include such as education, income, job, place of residence and ethnic origin or religious background.
Lower incomes and education levels can affect weight management. For example:
- High-poverty neighborhoods may not have places to exercise safely.
- People with lower incomes may not be able to get or pay for high quality healthcare.
- A lack of nutrition education can make it difficult for people to make healthy food choices.
- Some people have less community and social support.
- Lower-income neighborhoods often have more fast-food restaurants and less access to low-cost, healthy food.
- Processed foods are promoted in television commercials.
- Many underrepresented populations live in food deserts where they cannot access low-cost healthy food. Historically, people from racial and ethnic minority groups have fewer opportunities than the general population in terms of economic, physical, and emotional health.
Many Healthcare professionals (HCP’s) look at a patient’s whole lifestyle as part of a weight management plan for obesity.
Importance of Diversity in Clinical Research Studies
A diverse representation of people taking part in clinical research is important. Not everyone reacts to medicines in the same way. Therefore, it is vital to include people from different racial and ethnic groups in clinical research studies. This helps ensure that investigational medicines are safe and work for people around the world.
Lilly’s weight management clinical trials research the effect of potential new treatments on body weight. There is no guarantee the clinical research study will give you the results you want. But by taking part, you could help others by advancing medical research in weight management and obesity. Learn more about Lilly clinical research studies for obesity and weight management on our Weight Management Site.
- Obesity is now considered a disease | clevelandclinic.org
- World Health Organization, Health Topics, Obesity | who.int
- Obesity in 2023 | worldobesity.org
- Health Disparities by Race and Ethnicity | americanprogress.org
- Social Determinants of Health | CDC.gov
- Obesity and African Americans | minorityhealth.hhs.gov/omh/
- Obesity Among Black Women | healthywomen.org