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Race/ethnicity, life-course socioeconomic position, and body weight trajectories over 34 years: the Alameda County Study

Publication Abstract

Baltrus, P.T., John W. Lynch, S. Everson-Rose, Trivellore Raghunathan, and George A. Kaplan. 2005. "Race/ethnicity, life-course socioeconomic position, and body weight trajectories over 34 years: the Alameda County Study." American Journal of Public Health, 95(9): 1595-1601.

Objectives. We investigated whether race differences in weight gain over 34 years were because of socioeconomic position (SEP) and psychosocial and behavioral factors (physical activity, cigarette smoking, alcohol consumption, depression, marital status, number of children). We used a life-course approach to SEP with 4 measures of SEP (childhood SEP, education, occupation, income) and a cumulative measure of SEP.

Methods. We used mixed models and data collected from the Alameda County Study to examine the association between race and weight change slopes and baseline weight in men (n=1186) and women (n=1375) aged 17 to 40 years at baseline (in 1965).

Results. All subjects gained weight over time. 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.

Conclusions. Interventions to prevent overweight and obesity should begin early in life and target the socioeconomically disadvantaged.

DOI:10.2105/AJPH.2004.046292 (Full Text)

Country of focus: United States.

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