Possible causes of population differences in obesity prevalence are discussed: biologic susceptibility, treatment availability or effectiveness, and shared behavior patterns leading to caloric imbalance. It is argued that obesity in minority groups in the United States is best understood as a variation on a larger cultural theme, the creation of an environment in which highly palatable foods are accessible to all at low cost and physical activity is not required. Inequities in access to health education, treatment services, and environmental opportunities are probably responsible for the exacerbation of obesity and its attendant health conditions in some minority groups. Programs for the prevention of obesity in minority populations need to address these inequities and also to consider ways to counteract the historical trends in the United States toward nutritional excess in the population as a whole.
- Minority groups