Informal and Formal Social Integration Shape Eating and Drinking of Older Black and White Americans
Objective: Health behaviors are seen as one possible pathway linking race to health outcomes. Social integration has also been consistently linked to important health outcomes but has not been examined as a mechanism accounting for racial differences in health behaviors among older U.S. adults. Method: We use data from the American's Changing Lives (ACL) Study to explore racial differences in measures of social integration and whether they help account for racial differences in several dietary behaviors and alcohol use. Results: We find differences by race and social integration measures in dietary behaviors and alcohol use. Net of socioeconomic status, health status, and reported discrimination, variation in social integration helps to account for racial differences in some health behaviors. Discussion: Our results highlight the nuanced role of social integration in understanding group differences in health behaviors. Interventions should consider such complexities when including aspects of social integration in their design.
inequality, diet, health behaviors, marriage, employment, race