1. Hayman, Laura L. PhD, RN, FAAN
  2. Callister, Lynn Clark PhD, RN, FAAN

Article Content

Baltrus, P. T., Lynch, J. W., Everson-Rose, S., Raghunathan, T. E., & Kaplan, G. A. (2005).American Journal of Public Health, 95(9), 1595-1601.

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The rates of overweight and obesity in the United States have been increasing in all racial and ethnic groups over the past several decades; however, more adverse patterns and trends have been observed in African American women. This study was designed to examine if race differences in weight gain over 34 years were attributed to socioeconomic position (SEP) and psychosocial and behavioral factors (patterns of physical activity, cigarette smoking, alcohol consumption, depression, marital status, and number of children). Data were obtained from the Alameda County Study, a longitudinal, population-based cohort study of 6,928 adults. The study was initiated in 1965 when all persons aged 18 or older were eligible for inclusion. Follow-up (mailed) questionnaires were administered in 1974, 1983, 1994, and 1999. At each data point, participants were asked to respond to questions about their mental and physical health, social relationships, and SEP. Results indicated that African American women weighed 4.96 kg (p < .001) more at baseline and gained 0.10 kg/year (p < .043) more weight than White women. Black men weighed 2.41 kg (p = .006) more at baseline but did not gain more weight than White men. The association of race with weight gain in women was largely because of cumulative SEP score. The results suggest that racial differences in adult weight gain among women are largely because of life-course socioeconomic conditions and underscore the importance of multi-level preventive interventions beginning early in life.


Implications for future research in health disparities and racial differences include the use of life-course measures of SEP to investigate the role of other factors (such as dietary intake) in relation to overweight and obesity.


Comment by Laura L. Hayman