An Examination of Socioeconomic Differences in Body Mass Index from 1986-2001 Using a Growth Curve Analysis Approach

Jennifer A Ailshire, University of Michigan

Obesity prevalence has been increasing in the United States for over 50 years, with alarming increases since the early 1980’s. Research suggests that obesity is a serious threat to population health because of its many comorbidities, which include diabetes and heart disease. Obesity rates also appear to be socially patterned, an indication that obesity may be an explanatory factor in observed health disparities. Using longitudinal data from the Americans’ Changing Lives survey, I model growth trajectories in Body Mass Index (BMI), an indicator of obesity, to determine how obesity rates are socially patterned by race, sex and education. I find that black women have the highest initial BMI and growth rates. Interestingly, there is little difference between men of different racial groups in either initial BMI or growth rates. In addition, while initial BMI is found to vary by education level, there is no significant difference in the growth rates.

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Presented in Session 88: Socioeconomic Determinants of Obesity