Racial Disparities in U.S. Diet, Exercise, Weight Explained

Socioeconomic status, not nutrition-, health-related psychosocial factors contribute to disparity

FRIDAY, Dec. 2 (HealthDay News) -- Some of the racial/ethnic disparities in diet, exercise, and weight status among U.S. adults can be explained by socioeconomic status (SES), but very few are explained by nutrition- and health-related psychosocial factors (NHRPF), according to a study published in the December issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.

Youfa Wang, M.D., Ph.D., and Xiaoli Chen, M.D., Ph.D., from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore investigated whether racial/ethnic differences in diet, exercise, and weight status among U.S. adults could be explained by NHRPF and SES. Nationally representative data for 4,356 U.S. adults were collected from two surveys. Participants were assessed for NHRPF (via 24 questions and related scores), SES, dietary intakes, diet quality, and body mass index (BMI).

The investigators found that NHRPF and Healthy Eating Index scores were better in participants with higher SES. The NHRPF showed small racial/ethnic differences, including being aware of nutrition-related health risks, and making food choices. Of the racial/ethnic disparities in diet, exercise, and BMI found on multivariable linear and logistic regression, few were explained by NHRPF and some were explained by SES. After adjusting for SES, the odds ratio of BMI ≥25 kg/m² for non-Hispanic blacks versus whites decreased by 38 percent. After controlling for SES, a smaller change of 9.5 percent was found in the racial/ethnic differences for exercise.

"NHRPF may explain very few, but SES may contribute some of the racial/ethnic disparities in diet, exercise, and weight status in the United States," the authors write.

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