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The Female-Male Disparity in Obesity Prevalence among Black American Young Adults: Contributions of Sociodemographic Characteristics of the Childhood Family

Citation

Robinson, Whitney R.; Gordon-Larsen, Penny; Kaufman, Jay S.; Suchindran, Chirayath M.; & Stevens, June (2009). The Female-Male Disparity in Obesity Prevalence among Black American Young Adults: Contributions of Sociodemographic Characteristics of the Childhood Family. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 89(4), 1204-1212. PMCID: PMC2667464

Abstract

Background: In the United States, black women are at much greater risk of obesity than are black men. Little is known about the factors underlying this disparity.
Objective: We explored whether childhood sociodemographic factors (parental education, single-mother household, number of siblings, number of minors in household, birth order, and female caregiver's age) were associated with the sex disparity in obesity prevalence in young black adults in the United States.
Design: An analytic data set (n = 7747) was constructed from the nationally representative National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. Childhood sociodemographic factors were assessed in 1994–1995 in nonimmigrant black and white youths aged 11–19 y. Obesity was assessed in 2001–2002. For each childhood sociodemographic factor, we evaluated whether the prevalence difference (female obesity minus male obesity) was modified by the factor. We described the contribution of each variable category to the overall prevalence difference.
Results: In unadjusted and multivariable-adjusted models, parental education consistently modified sex disparity in blacks (P = 0.01). The sex gap was largest with low parental education (16.7% obese men compared with 45.4% obese women) and smallest with high parental education (28.5% obese men compared with 31.4% obese women). In whites, there was little overall sex difference in obesity prevalence.
Conclusions: To our knowledge, this was the first study to document that the sex disparity in obesity prevalence in young black adults is concentrated in families with low parental education. In these low-socioeconomic status families, obesity development is either under the control of distinct mechanisms in each sex, or men and women from these households adopt different obesity-related behaviors.

URL

http://dx.doi.org/10.3945/ajcn.2007.25751

Reference Type

Journal Article

Year Published

2009

Journal Title

American Journal of Clinical Nutrition

Author(s)

Robinson, Whitney R.
Gordon-Larsen, Penny
Kaufman, Jay S.
Suchindran, Chirayath M.
Stevens, June

PMCID

PMC2667464