Disparities in Elevated Body Mass Index in Youth Receiving Care at Community Health Centers

Nivedita Mohanty*, Roxane Padilla, Michael C. Leo, Sandra Tilmon, Ehimare Akhabue, Sarah S. Rittner, Phillip Crawford, May Okihiro, Stephen D. Persell

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Childhood obesity has increased significantly in the United States. Racial subgroups are often grouped into categories in research, limiting our understanding of disparities. This study describes the prevalence of obesity among youth of diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds receiving care at community health centers (CHCs). This cross-sectional study describes the prevalence of elevated body mass index (BMI) (≥85th percentile) and obesity (≥95th percentile) in youth aged 9 to 19 years receiving care in CHCs in 2014. Multilevel logistic regression estimated the prevalence of elevated BMI and obesity by age, race/ethnicity, and sex. Among 64 925 youth, 40% had elevated BMI and 22% were obese. By race, obesity was lowest in the combined Asian/Pacific Islander category (13%); however, when subgroups were separated, the highest prevalence was among Native Hawaiians (33%) and Other Pacific Islanders (42%) and the lowest in Asians. By sex, Black females and Hispanic and Asian males were more likely to be obese. By age, the highest prevalence of obesity was among those aged 9 to 10 years (25%). Youth served by CHCs have a high prevalence of obesity, with significant differences observed by race, sex, and age. Combining race categories obscures disparities. The heterogeneity of communities warrants research that describes different populations to address obesity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalFamily and Community Health
StateAccepted/In press - 2021


  • community health
  • disparities
  • obesity
  • racial minorities

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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