Winkleby Lab In the Prevention Research Center

Overweight Adults: Ethnic, SES, and Behavioral Influences

Despite decreases in the major cardiovascular risk factors such as hypertension and hyperlipidemia, the prevalence of overweight for U.S. adults has dramatically increased over the past ten years. Some subgroups of ethnic minority adults, such as Black and Mexican-American women, are substantially more likely to be overweight than Whites. However, because ethnic minority adults are often disproportionately poor and less educated, ethnic differences in weight may be partially explained by differences in socioeconomic status (SES). To date, studies have rarely examined the independent effects of both ethnicity and SES, obscuring the relative contribution of these effects on overweight. More importantly, few studies have examined whether behavioral and psychosocial risk factors for overweight differ by ethnicity and/or SES, precluding the design of effective tailored interventions for subgroups at high risk.

The purpose of this RO3 proposal is to determine whether there are independent effects of ethnicity and SES on: (1) overweight and (2) behavioral and psychosocial risk factors for overweight in men and women. Data will be analyzed for 3203 Black, 2989 Mexican-American, and 3761 White men and women, ages 25-64, who participated in the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III). This national survey of the U.S. population, conducted from 1988 to 1994, was designed to oversample two of the largest ethnic groups in the U.S., Blacks and Mexican-Americans.

The present proposal has three specific aims that will be examined separately by gender:

Aim 1: to determine (a) whether Black and/or Mexican-American adults have a larger body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference than White adults of comparable SES levels; and whether lower SES adults regardless of ethnicity have a larger BMI and waist circumference than higher SES adults;

Aim 2: to determine (a) whether Black and/or Mexican-American adults have higher levels of three behavioral and psychosocial risk factors for overweight (dietary habits, sedentary lifestyle, and body dissatisfaction) than White adults of comparable SES levels; and (b) whether lower SES adults (from all three ethnic groups) have higher levels of behavioral and psychosocial risk factors than higher SES adults;

Aim 3: to use the findings from Aims #1 and #2 to develop descriptive profiles of high-risk subgroups which can inform the future design of effective weight loss interventions tailored to those subgroups.

 

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