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Obesity in Caribbean and African Americans

By Dr. Carlos Carrasquilla
Florida Medical Center

FT. LAUDERDALE – In the United States, two-thirds (64%) of all Americans are overweight, and one-third (30%) are obese. About 1100 preventable deaths daily in the United States are due to obesity and its co-morbidities. About 50% of African-American women are obese.

Diabetes and high blood pressure are diseases relating to obesity and which very frequently affect the African American community. Through traditional medications, some improvements are obtained in patients with these diseases. However, results obtained following bariatric surgery are fantastic.

Bariatric surgery, in general, not only shows a decrease in health risks and improved survival, but also improved quality of life. Most patients with Type II diabetes and/or high blood pressure find that, post-surgery, these conditions have reversed themselves and no longer require medication for these illnesses. These conditions can be accompanied by complications that include blindness, kidney failure, amputations, strokes, etc., along with the obesity itself.

Fitzroy J. Henry, Director of the Caribbean Food and Nutrition Institute wrote, “The silent epidemic of obesity is the underlying cause of most of the deaths in the English-speaking Caribbean today.” He further acknowledges, “Studies have shown that persons of African descent are more predispositioned to obesity” and that “Similar studies on diabetes within the communities of Indian Descent in the UK have also shown a higher predisposition to diabetes and mortality from coronary heart disease.”

Those who are native to the English-speaking Caribbean are mainly of African and Indian origin and genetic predisposition may well be a factor contributing to obesity. However, the recent dramatic rise in the rates of obesity suggest that it could be more likely due to factors within the environment.

The surgical weight loss institute at Florida Medical Center in Ft Lauderdale has technologically advanced new facility with specialized surgeons and staff. The center’s director, Dr. Carlos Carrasquilla is one of the pioneers of the “new system” of minimally invasive surgical bariatric procedures. He is also a noted author and researcher in the field of Bariatric medicine.

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