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J Natl Black Nurses Assoc. 2012 Jul;23(1):34-40.

Association of perceived racial discrimination with eating behaviors and obesity among participants of the SisterTalk study.

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Seton Hall University, College of Nursing, Office # 229, 400 South Orange Avenue, South Orange, NJ 07042, USA.


The purpose of this study was to assess the association of perceived racial discrimination with emotional eating behaviors, weight status, and stress levels among obese African-American women, who volunteered to enter a weight control study (SisterTalk) in the New England region of the United States. The sample of women was taken from the baseline data of participants in SisterTalk, a randomized, controlled trial of a cable TV-delivered weight control program. Using the Krieger instrument, telephone and in-person surveys were used to assess perceived discrimination, emotional eating behaviors, and stress. Height and weight were measured to calculate BMI in order to assess weight status. ANOVA models were constructed to assess the association of discrimination with demographics. Correlations were calculated for discrimination, stress, emotional eating, and weight variables. ANOVA models were also constructed to assess discrimination with emotional eating, after adjusting for appropriate demographic variables. Perceived discrimination was associated with education and stress levels but was not associated with weight status (BMI). The frequency of eating when depressed or sad, and eating to manage stress, were both significantly higher among women who reported higher perceived discrimination and higher stress levels. Discrimination may contribute to stress that leads to eating for reasons other than hunger among African-American women, although the causal direction of associations cannot be determined with cross sectional data. Associations of discrimination with weight status were not found, although it is likely that emotional eating behaviors related to perceived discrimination are unhealthy. Future research should examine these relationships more closely in longitudinal studies.

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