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Keywords

Race, Body-Mass Index, BMI, Socio Economics, Life Styles

Abstract

Objective: There are marked inequalities in body mass index (BMI), overweight, and obesity across ethnic groups. We sought to examine the extent to which lifestyle factors and socioeconomic variables explain the higher BMI in Black women compared to White women in the United States.

Methods: We used data from the 2010 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) and limited the sample to non-Hispanic Black and non-Hispanic White women (n = 9,491). We employed normal regression and compared the association of race with BMI before and after adjusting for lifestyle factors (diet, physical activity, smoking, and drinking) and socioeconomic variables (education, ratio of income to poverty threshold, occupation, and home ownership). Data analysis was performed in 2012.

Results: The difference between the BMI of Black and White women decreased from 2.91 to 2.17 Kg/m2 (i.e. a decrease of 27.2%) after adjusting for lifestyle factors and socioeconomic variables. Multivariate results also showed that higher consumption of fruit/vegetables and beans, lower consumption of red meat and sugar sweetened beverages, physical activity, smoking, regular drinking, and higher socioeconomic status were associated with lower BMI.

Conclusions: Lifestyle factors and socioeconomic variables explain about a quarter of the BMI inequality between Black and White women. Thus, interventions that promote healthy eating and physical activity among Blacks as well as social policies that ameliorate socioeconomic inequalities between races might be able to reduce the current BMI inequality between Black and White women.


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