Recognizing and battling obesity among African-American women and girls

APA and the Association of Black Psychologists, obesity researchers, health professionals and community leaders addressed the U.S. obesity epidemic and its disproportionate effect on African-American women.

Causes and solutions for the disproportionate impact the U.S. obesity epidemic has on African-American girls and women were the focus of a Summit on Obesity in African American Women and Girls, co-sponsored by the Association of Black Psychologists (ABPsi) and APA in Washington, D.C., Oct. 22-23.

The presenters emphasized that interventions at all levels of society — from health care providers to community groups to policy makers — will be necessary to beat the obesity epidemic. While obesity affects all Americans, African-American women have been hit the hardest, according to keynote speaker Cynthia Ogden, PhD, an epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Almost 60 percent of black women are obese, compared to 32 percent of white women and 41 percent of Hispanic women, and that trend is driving many major health disparities. Black women's life expectancy has decreased and their chances of developing a host of health challenges such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and arthritis have increased, said APA President Suzanne Bennett Johnson, PhD, who made addressing the obesity crisis one of her presidential initiatives.