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Weight Loss and Dieting Habits Among Overweight Navajo Indians
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Weight, Body Image & Weight Control in Navajo Indians

Historically, the Navajo exhibited a low prevalence of overweight, but a number of small studies over the past few decades indicate that the prevalence is increasing. In the population-based Navajo Health and Nutrition Survey conducted in 1991-92, overweight was defined as a body mass index (BMI, kg/m2) at or above the 85th percentile (BMI > 27.8 for men, > 27.3 for women) of the Second National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. One third of men age 20 and 39 and one half of men age 40 and 59, but fewer than 10 percent of men age 60 and older were overweight. Two thirds or more of women in all age groups were overweight. Nineteen percent of the participants underestimated their weight status (underweight, appropriate, overweight) relative to their BMI category and 17 percent overestimated their weight status. Women overestimated their weight status more often than men, and participants age 20-39 overestimated their weight status more often than older participants. Men and women age 60 and older preferred heavier body shape models as ideals of health more often than younger participants. Nearly half of the participants, regardless of their weight status, reported that they were trying to lose weight; most reported using diet and exercise. Because overweight is an important risk factor for many chronic diseases, including diabetes mellitus, cardiovascular disease and cancer, primary prevention of overweight and weight management for adults are recommended to prevent an increase in the burden of chronic disease among the Navajo.

Source: White LL, Ballew C, Gilbert TJ, Mendlein JM, Mokdad AH, Strauss KF. Kayenta Service Unit, Navajo Area Indian Health Service, Kayenta, AZ, USA.

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