The female-male disparity in obesity prevalence among black American young adults: contributions of sociodemographic characteristics of the childhood family.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

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 gender 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 gender disparity in blacks (P = 0.01). The gender gap was largest with low parental education (16.7% of men compared with 45.4% of women were obese) and smallest with high parental education (28.5% of men compared with 31.4% of women were obese). In whites, there was little overall gender difference in obesity prevalence. CONCLUSIONS: To our knowledge, this was the first study to document that the gender 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 gender, or men and women from these households adopt different obesity-related behaviors.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Robinson, WR; Gordon-Larsen, P; Kaufman, JS; Suchindran, CM; Stevens, J

Published Date

  • April 2009

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 89 / 4

Start / End Page

  • 1204 - 1212

PubMed ID

  • 19190069

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC2667464

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1938-3207

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.3945/ajcn.2007.25751


  • eng

Conference Location

  • United States