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J Obes. 2013;2013:140743. doi: 10.1155/2013/140743. Epub 2013 Apr 10.

Black-white disparities in overweight and obesity trends by educational attainment in the United States, 1997-2008.

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Department of Nutrition, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA 02115, USA.



Few studies have examined racial and educational disparities in recent population-based trends.


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/m(2)) using adjusted Poisson regression with robust variance.


From 1997 to 2008, BMI increased by ≥1 kg/m(2) 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/m(2) versus 25.8 ± 0.58 to 26.5 ± 0.08 kg/m(2)) and men (28.1 ± 0.17 kg/m(2) to 29.0 ± 0.20 versus 27.1 ± 0.04 kg/m(2) to 28.1 ± 0.06 kg/m(2)). 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.


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.

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