Overweight and Obesity Among African American Youths

Boys play tug of war.

African American children and adolescents are more likely to be overweight and obese than their White peers.

The Issue:

Because of the many barriers to healthy eating and active living, obesity and overweight rates among Latino, African American and American Indian children, and adolescents, remain significantly high. Consequently, they are at a higher risk of developing serious, chronic illnesses.

This fact sheet examines overweight and obesity among African American youth and adolescents.

Key Findings

  • African American youths are at higher risk of developing diabetes than their White peers.

  • Food advertising continues to target African American youths more aggressively than White youths.

  • African American communities have fewer chain supermarkets and safe place to play than White communities—limiting access to fresh fruits and vegetables and opportunities for physical activity.


Comprehensive solutions, which include increasing access to affordable healthy foods in communities and schools, limiting the marketing of unhealthy foods and beverages, addressing neighborhood safety, and improving the built environment, are necessary to prevent childhood obesity and safeguard the health of African American children and adolescents.

This fact sheet is produced by Leadership for Healthy Communities: Advancing Policies to Support Healthy Eating and Active Living, a national program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.