IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Report: Thinner doesn't mean healthy for Asian-Americans

Asian-Americans tend to be skinnier than white, black or Hispanic Americans, but that doesn’t necessarily equal healthy, new national data reminds. People of Asian descent still struggle with health issues associated with being overweight, like hypertension and high cholesterol. 

The report found that Asian-Americans do tend to be thin: About 38 percent of Americans of Asian descent are overweight, meaning they have a BMI, or body mass index, higher than 25. Compare that to 66 percent of white Americans, 76 percent of black Americans and nearly 80 percent of Hispanic Americans. (Body mass index is a widely used way to measure body fat based on height and weight. Anything over 25 is considered overweight.)

But Asian adults were about equally as likely to have high blood pressure as white adults, and the rate of high cholesterol among Asian-Americans was about the same as it was among white, black or Hispanic adults in the U.S.

That’s because BMI doesn’t tell the whole story. “At a given BMI,” the authors write, “Asian adults may have more body fat than white adults.” 

It’s the first time Asian-Americans have been included in this national data looking at the hypertension, high cholesterol and high body mass index of U.S. adults. People of Asian descent now make up 5 percent of the nation’s population, a demographic that grew by more than 40 percent from 2000 and 2010. Before now, there were too few Asian-Americans to include in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, a research program from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, to get meaningful data.