State Partnership Initiative to Address Health Disparities

Obesity Disparities in South and East Texas

In August 2015, the Texas Health and Human Service Commission was awarded a five-year grant from the U.S. Health and Human Services, Office of Minority Health for the State Partnership Initiative to Address Health Disparities. The purpose of this initiative is to develop authentic partnerships to improve health outcomes in target areas of East and South Texas and address obesity disparities that affect minority populations.

The Texas SPIAHD project aims to:

  1. Reduce obesity rates
  2. Increase body mass index, diabetes and hypertension screening and referral services among African American and Hispanic adults in Beaumont, Port Arthur and Laredo.

To increase awareness of health disparities, HHSC has developed Obesity Disparities Profiles for each target community identifying and expanding on adult obesity disparity information. To implement project activities HHSC will conduct community projects with local community partners in each of the target areas:

  1. Increase community-clinical linkages for African-American and Hispanic adults with obesity, diabetes, and/or hypertension through coordinated community wellness events that provide onsite screening and referral services.
  2. Enhance and promote locally based social media platform to inform community members of local resources, upcoming wellness events, and educational health information related to obesity, diabetes, or hypertension.
  3. Promote efforts to increase knowledge and awareness of health disparities and health status of local community, to increase cultural responsiveness of service providers, and to promote culturally and linguistically appropriate healthy lifestyle resources.

Obesity Disparity Profiles

African-American and Hispanic Texans experience obesity at higher rates than white Texans. This disparity is mirrored in the prevalence of hypertension and diabetes in Texas' minority populations. Obesity is a modifiable risk factor that contributes to chronic diseases such as hypertension and diabetes and therefore is the focus of the SPIAHD project.

Obesity in Texas by Race/Ethnicity (2017)

2017 Obesity Chart for White, Hispanic and African Americans

When we examine the Texas population by race/ethnicity, in 2017 the Texas population was:

  • 41.9 percent white
  • 11.8 percent African-American
  • 39.4 percent Hispanic.

For the same year, the obese population in Texas was:

  • 30.1 percent white
  • 39.8 percent African-American
  • 37.9 percent Hispanic.

Based on the overall Texas population we would expect to see similar proportions by race/ethnicity in the obese population of Texas. However, there is an underrepresentation of white individuals and an overrepresentation of African American individuals in the obese population in Texas.

White individuals make up 41.9 percent of the Texas population, but only 30.1 percent of the obese population, while African-American individuals make up 11.8 percent of the Texas population, but 39.8 percent of the obese population. The Hispanic population is closer to what we would expect to see because those individuals make up 39.4 percent of the Texas population and 37.9 percent of the obese population. Given that African-Americans and Hispanics together make up more than 75 percent of the obese population in Texas, the SPIAHD project aims to reduce obesity in these two racial/ethnic groups.

For more information on the project, email