Tonya Moore, PhD

Advisor, Susan Appel, PhD

Socioeconomic patterning of obesity among African American women in the Jackson Heart Study

Objectives: The purpose of this study was to expand upon what has been observed in literature about obesity and its ties to socioeconomic status (SES) among African American Women (AAW) participants of the Jackson Heart Study (JHS).

Methods: This secondary analysis was a sub-study of the JHS and focused on four SES variables: education, income, occupation and wealth; and five outcome variables: body mass index (BMI), waist circumference (WC), waist-to-hip ratio (WHR), visceral adipose tissue (VAT), and subcutaneous adipose tissue (SAT). Two analytic samples were created in order to examine data collected during Exam 1 (2000-2004) and Exam 2 (2005-2008). Pearson's r correlations, linear and logistic regression statistical tests determined relationships and identified statistical significance of any patterns observed.

Results: Obesity statistics were much worse for AAW within the JHS compared to national statistics for AAW. SES associated obesity disparities were consistently observed in the low status groups for each SES measure, including wealth. According to the current study, lower status AAW were more obese (higher BMI, WC, WHR, VAT & SAT) than high status AAW within the JHS. Social patterning was clearest when comparing educational groups versus other measures of SES. AAW who work in production-type occupations, were less likely to experience a reduction in weight status compared to individuals who work in higher status occupations, according to positive linear trends. Wealth was not a robust SES measure. Correlations between traditional obesity measures and CT measures, except for SAT and WHR were significantly associated with SES, including wealth.

Discussion: Education is the most robust indicator of SES in a study of obesity and fat distribution among AAW within the JHS. Education appeared to have a buffering effect which means AAW with higher education were at decreased risk for obesity. The implementation and evaluation of policies that address educational and social issues may actually yield positive weight reduction outcomes among AAW within the JHS. AAW lead in obesity and CVD prevalence. Findings from the current study are important and provided additional insight into the patterning of obesity among a heterogeneous SES group of AAW.

The full abstract can be found here.