Asian American children are commonly thought to have a lower risk of childhood obesity, but a study published in the journal Childhood Obesity reveals that once data is disaggregated, there are wide variations between Asian subgroups. Using data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study for four year olds, the study concludes Asian Indians have the lowest rate of being obese or overweight (15.6%) while Vietnamese had the highest rate (34.7%). These are still lower than the white rate for children being obese or overweight of 36%. Asian American children with mothers born overseas are said to have a lower rate, which suggests that as Asian Americans adapt the American diet, they are more likely to be overweight. Children whose parents have higher education levels also are said to have a lower rate of being overweight.
While I am happy to see disaggregated data in this study, a concern about some of the conclusions, admitted by the authors of the study, is that the sample size was relatively small. This makes the 95% confidence interval for some of the conclusions very wide (consider the overweight and obesity interval for Vietnamese children ranges between 20.55 and 52.25). Looking at Number Two Son’s school, which is 70% Asian, mostly Filipino and Vietnamese, the results of the study seem counter to what I observed after years of coaching teams and sports clinics (I’d say there are more overweight Filipino kids).