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Journal of Obesity
Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 140743, 9 pages
Research Article

Black-White Disparities in Overweight and Obesity Trends by Educational Attainment in the United States, 1997–2008

1Department of Nutrition, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA 02115, USA
2Department of Epidemiology, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA
3Department of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA
4INSERM, U1018, CESP, Occupational and Social Determinants of Health, 75014 Villejuif, France
5Université Paris XI, Villejuif, France
6Université Versailles Saint-Quentin, Versailles, France
7Department of Health Policy and Management, Baltimore, MD, USA

Received 2 November 2012; Revised 26 February 2013; Accepted 17 March 2013

Academic Editor: Sara Benjamin Neelon

Copyright © 2013 Chandra L. Jackson et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Background. Few studies have examined racial and educational disparities in recent population-based trends. Methods. We analyzed data of a nationally representative sample of 174,228 US-born adults in the National Health Interview Survey from 1997 to 2008. We determined mean BMI trends by educational attainment and race and black-white prevalence ratios (PRs) for overweight/obesity (BMI > 25 kg/m2) using adjusted Poisson regression with robust variance. Results. From 1997 to 2008, BMI increased by ≥1 kg/m2 in all race-sex groups, and appeared to increase faster among whites. Blacks with greater than a high school education (GHSE) had a consistently higher BMI over time than whites in both women (28.3 ± 0.14 to 29.7 ± 0.18 kg/m2 versus 25.8 ± 0.58 to 26.5 ± 0.08 kg/m2) and men (28.1 ± 0.17 kg/m2 to 29.0 ± 0.20 versus 27.1 ± 0.04 kg/m2 to 28.1 ± 0.06 kg/m2). For participants of all educational attainment levels, age-adjusted overweight/obesity was greater by 44% (95% CI: 1.42–1.46) in black versus white women and 2% (1.01–1.04) in men. Among those with GHSE, overweight/obesity prevalence was greater (PR: 1.52; 1.49–1.55) in black versus white women, but greater (1.07; 1.05–1.09) in men. Conclusions. BMI increased steadily in all race-sex and education groups from 1997 to 2008, and blacks (particularly women) had a consistently higher BMI than their white counterparts. Overweight/obesity trends and racial disparities were more prominent among individuals with higher education levels, compared to their counterparts with lower education levels.