Current Obesity Reports

, Volume 7, Issue 2, pp 130–138 | Cite as

Racial Disparities in Obesity Treatment

  • Angel S. Byrd
  • Alexander T. Toth
  • Fatima Cody Stanford
Obesity Treatment (CM Apovian, Section Editor)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Obesity Treatment


Purpose of Review

Obesity rates in the USA have reached pandemic levels with one third of the population with obesity in 2015–2016 (39.8% of adults and 18.5% of youth). It is a major public health concern, and it is prudent to understand the factors which contribute. Racial and ethnic disparities are pronounced in both the prevalence and treatment of obesity and must be addressed in the efforts to combat obesity.

Recent Findings

Disparities in prevalence of obesity in racial/ethnic minorities are apparent as early as the preschool years and factors including genetics, diet, physical activity, psychological factors, stress, income, and discrimination, among others, must be taken into consideration. A multidisciplinary team optimizes lifestyle and behavioral interventions, pharmacologic therapy, and access to bariatric surgery to develop the most beneficial and equitable treatment plans.


The reviewed studies outline disparities that exist and the impact that race/ethnicity have on disease prevalence and treatment response. Higher prevalence and reduced treatment response to lifestyle, behavior, pharmacotherapy, and surgery, are observed in racial and ethnic minorities. Increased research, diagnosis, and access to treatment in the pediatric and adult populations of racial and ethnic minorities are proposed to combat the burgeoning obesity epidemic and to prevent increasing disparity.


Obesity Overweight Race Ethnicity Genetics Weight loss medications Bariatric surgery Disparities Socioeconomic status 



National Institutes of Health NIDDK R01 DK103946-01A1.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflicts of Interest

Angel S. Byrd, Alexander T. Toth, and Fatima Cody Stanford declare they have no conflict of interest.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.


Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Angel S. Byrd
    • 1
  • Alexander T. Toth
    • 2
  • Fatima Cody Stanford
    • 3
    • 4
    • 5
  1. 1.Department of DermatologyThe Johns Hopkins University School of MedicineBaltimoreUSA
  2. 2.Neuroendocrine Unit, Massachusetts General HospitalBostonUSA
  3. 3.Harvard Medical SchoolBostonUSA
  4. 4.MGH Weight Center, Gastrointestinal Unit-Department of MedicineMassachusetts General HospitalBostonUSA
  5. 5.Department of Pediatrics-EndocrinologyMassachusetts General HospitalBostonUSA

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