Article

Practical Research Strategies for Reducing Social and Racial/Ethnic Disparities in Obesity.

Stanford Prevention Research Center, Program on Prevention Outcomes and Practices, Stanford University Palo Alto, California.
International journal of obesity (2005) (Impact Factor: 5.39). 07/2012; 2012(2):s16-s22. DOI: 10.1038/ijosup.2012.5
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Adult and childhood obesity and related adverse outcomes are most common among racial/ethnic minorities and socio-economically disadvantaged populations in the United States . Research approaches to obesity developed in mainstream populations and deploying new information technologies may exacerbate existing disparities in obesity. Current obesity management and prevention research priorities will not maximally impact this critical problem unless investigators explicitly focus on discovering innovative strategies for preventing and managing obesity in the disadvantaged populations that are most affected. On the basis of our research experience, four key research approaches are needed: (1) elucidating the underlying social forces that lead to disparities; (2) directly involving community members in the development of research questions and research methods; (3) developing flexible strategies that allow tailoring to multiple disadvantaged populations; and (4) building culturally and socio-economically tailored strategies specifically for populations most affected by obesity. Our experience with a community-based longitudinal cohort study and two health center-based clinical trials illustrate these principles as a contrast to traditional research priorities that can inadvertently worsen existing social inequities. If obesity research does not directly address healthcare and health-outcome disparities, it will contribute to their perpetuation.

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