Vietnamese-American children had the highest rate of obesity in the latest study of childhood obesity in the USA among Asian-American youth. Vietnamese children in Asia are usually photographed as slim. Has the kids from Pacific nations known as the ring of fire become the abdominal spare tire due to changes in diet? The genes haven’t changed. Vietnamese kids in Asia are still far from being overweight on their ethnic cuisine.
The image of Asian-American children as trim and slim on a diet heavy in white rice, stir-fried sea foods, pork, and chicken in peanut or corn oil, and vegetables is changing due to increasing obesity among Asian children living on Western diets heavy in dairy and fried fatty meats, sugary sweets, sodas, frozen foods, pasta from white flour, and fried potatoes in the USA instead of ethnic diets rich in vegetables, buckwheat noodles, sea vegetables, cruciferous vegetables, celery, onions, garlic, and seafood.
What’s happening to Asian American kids in the USA on Western, often fast-food diets? A new study reveals it’s the Vietnamese-American children who are gaining the most weight, becoming overweight and obese, when compared to other Asian American children such as Filipino, Chinese, Korean, Pacific-Islander, or Japanese ethnic groups in the USA. The researchers didn’t include Native American or Arctic (Inuit) or Alaskan-Asian kids on native Arctic or Native American traditional diets in the study, only children whose relatives came from the Far East in relatively recent times. For example, Asian immigrants have been coming to the USA to work since before the 19th century Gold Rush era.
Is it genes or foods as compared to other Asian-American groups in the USA? In the past, Asian-American children have been at low risk for being overweight or obese compared to other racial and ethnic groups in the U.S., but that may be changing. Yet as rates of overweight and obesity rise, the risk appears to vary depending on the Asian country of origin, according to an article in Childhood Obesity, a peer-reviewed journal from Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers (Mary Ann Liebert, Inc./Genetic Engineering News). The article is available on the journal Childhood Obesity website.
In the article “Prevalence of Obesity among Young Asian-American Children,” weight measurements from Asian-American 4-year-olds showed that 26% were overweight or obese and 13% were obese. The study included the following Asian ethnic categories: Chinese, Japanese, Filipino, Asian Indian, Korean, Vietnamese, and Other Asian/Pacific Islander.
When the children were divided into groups based on the mother’s ethnicity, the study authors, Anjali Jain, MD et al. from The Lewin Group (Falls Church, VA), Children’s National Medical Center, George Washington University School of Health and Health Sciences, Georgetown University (Washington, DC), and Medical College of Virginia (Richmond), found that while Chinese-American children were at lower risk of overweight or obesity (23.5%) than Whites (36%), Asian-Indian American children had the lowest rates (15.6%) and were the most likely to be underweight. In contrast, Vietnamese-American children had the highest rate of overweight or obesity (34.7%).
“To some extent, this important article highlights variable vulnerability to childhood obesity, based on ethnicity and culture. But what may be most important is the message that groups we long thought of as relatively immune no longer are,” explains David L. Katz, MD, MPH, Editor-in-Chief of Childhood Obesity and Director of Yale University’s Prevention Research Center, in the November 29, 2012 news release, Which group of Asian-American children is at highest risk for obesity? Asian-American children have been at low risk for being overweight or obese compared to other racial and ethnic groups in the US, but that may be changing.
“The obesigenic forces that prevail in the developed and developing countries of the world appear to trump genes and ethnicity, and appear to be stronger than traditional cultural practices. We are all in this together, and thus all have common cause that transcends borders and cultural practices to devise the array of defenses we and our children need.”
The journal, Childhood Obesity is a bimonthly journal, published in print and online, and the journal of record for all aspects of communication on the broad spectrum of issues and strategies related to weight management and obesity prevention in children and adolescents. The Journal includes peer-reviewed articles documenting cutting-edge research and clinical studies, opinion pieces and roundtable discussions, profiles of successful programs and interventions, and updates on task force recommendations, global initiatives, and policy platforms.
It reports on news and developments in science and medicine, features programs and initiatives developed in the public and private sector, and includes a Literature Watch. Tables of content and a sample issue may be viewed on the Childhood Obesity website.