The association between racial and gender discrimination and body mass index among residents living in lower-income housing.

Journal Article (Journal Article)


Research on the association between self-reported racial or gender discrimination and body mass index (BMI) has been limited and inconclusive to date, particularly among lower-income populations.


The aim of the current study was to examine the association between self-reported racial and gender discrimination and BMI among a sample of adult residents living in 12 urban lower-income housing sites in Boston, Masschusetts (USA).


Baseline survey data were collected among 1,307 (weighted N = 1907) study participants. For analyses, linear regression models with a cluster design were conducted using SUDAAN and SAS statistical software.


Our sample was predominately Black (weighted n = 956) and Hispanic (weighted n = 857), and female (weighted n = 1420), with a mean age of 49.3 (SE: .40) and mean BMI of 30.2 kg m(-2) (SE: .19). Nearly 47% of participants reported ever experiencing racial discrimination, and 24.8% reported ever experiencing gender discrimination. In bivariate and multivariable linear regression models, no main effect association was found between either racial or gender discrimination and BMI.


While our findings suggest that self-reported discrimination is not a key determinant of BMI among lower-income housing residents, these results should be considered in light of study limitations. Future researchers may want to investigate this association among other relevant samples, and other social contextual and cultural factors should be explored to understand how they contribute to disparities.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Shelton, RC; Puleo, E; Bennett, GG; McNeill, LH; Sorensen, G; Emmons, KM

Published Date

  • January 2009

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 19 / 3

Start / End Page

  • 251 - 257

PubMed ID

  • 19769005

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC2855131

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1945-0826

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1049-510X


  • eng