Racial and ethnic representation among a sample of nutrition-and obesity-focused professional organizations in the United States

Academic Article


  • Background: Obesity is a chronic disease that disproportionately affects individuals from nonmajority racial/ethnic groups in the United States. Research shows that individuals from minority racial/ethnic backgrounds consider it important to have access to providers from diverse backgrounds. Health care providers and scientists from minority racial/ethnic groups are more likely than non-Hispanic whites to treat or conduct research on patients from underrepresented groups. Objectives: To characterize the racial/ethnic diversity of nutrition-and obesity-focused professional organizations in the United States. Methods: This study assessed race/ethnicity data from several obesity-focused national organizations including The Obesity Society, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND), the American Society for Nutrition, and the American Board of Obesity Medicine (ABOM). Each organization was queried via emailed survey to provide data on racial/ethnic representation among their membership in the past 5 y and among elected presidents from 2010 to 2020. Results: Two of the 3 professional societies queried did not systematically track race/ethnicity data at the time of query. Limited tracking data available from AND show underrepresentation of black (2.6%), Asian (3.9%), Latinx (3.1%), Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander: (1.3%), or indigenous (American Indian or Alaskan Native: 0.3%) individuals compared with the US population. Underrepresentation of racial/ethnic minorities was also reported for ABOM diplomates (black: 6.0%, Latinx: 5.0%, Native American: 0.2%). Only AND reported having racial/ethnic diversity (20%) among the organization's presidents within the previous decade (2010-2020). Conclusions: Findings suggest that 1) standardized tracking of race and ethnicity data is needed to fully assess diversity, equity, and inclusion, and 2) work is needed to increase the diversity of membership and leadership at the presidential level within obesity-and nutrition-focused professional organizations. A diverse cadre of obesity-and nutrition-focused health care professionals is needed to further improve nutrition-related health outcomes, including obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and undernutrition, in this country.
  • Authors

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Carson TL; Cardel MI; Stanley TL; Grinspoon S; Hill JO; Ard J; Mayer-Davis E; Stanford FC
  • Start Page

  • 1869
  • End Page

  • 1872
  • Volume

  • 114
  • Issue

  • 6