Super-sizing Asian Americans

(SACRAMENTO, Calif.) -- Low-income Asian and Pacific Islander children in California are becoming overweight at an alarming rate -- and will soon catch up to low-income white, black and Latino children in the proportion who are overweight or obese, according to research reported today at the 5th Asian American Cancer Control Academy. The percentage of low-income Asian and Pacific Islander children in California who are overweight more than doubled between 1994 and 2003, from 7 percent to 15 percent.

Poor diet and a sedentary lifestyle, with resulting overweight and obesity, contribute to one in three cancers in this country, as well as to such chronic illnesses as diabetes and heart disease.

"California has the most Asian Americans in the United States, and we've got the opportunity to mount aggressive programs to prevent the unhealthy acculturation-related changes in diet and physical activity that have occurred with other immigrant groups," said Susan Foerster, chief of the Cancer Prevention and Nutrition Section of the California Department of Health Services. "Efforts to stop the erosion of the healthy traditional Asian and Pacific Islander dietary and activity patterns are urgently needed to stop the sharp increases we're seeing in overweight people, especially children."

As a first step, Foerster and her colleagues at DHS, working with investigators at the UCLA School of Public Health, recently conducted 24 focus groups involving more than 200 individuals from three low-income Asian-American ethnic groups: Chinese, Vietnamese and Hmong. Interviews were conducted in Mandarin, Cantonese, Vietnamese and Hmong. The study was supported in part by the National Cancer Institute's Asian American Network for Cancer Awareness, Research and Training (AANCART), headquartered at UC Davis, and the DHS California Nutrition Network, with funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Stamp Program.

The study revealed that As

Contact: Claudia Morain
University of California, Davis - Health System

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