Publication Abstract

Authors: Sánchez-Vaznaugh EV, Kawachi I, Subramanian SV, Sánchez BN, Acevedo-Garcia D

Title: Do socioeconomic gradients in body mass index vary by race/ethnicity, gender, and birthplace?

Journal: Am J Epidemiol 169(9):1102-12

Date: 2009 May 01

Abstract: Despite the well-documented negative socioeconomic status (SES) gradient in body mass index (BMI; weight (kg)/height (m)(2)) among women in developed societies, the presence and strength of the gradient is less consistent among men. Far less clear is the SES patterning of BMI among racial/ethnic minorities and immigrants. Using data from the 2001 California Health Interview Survey, a cross-sectional representative sample of California adults, the authors examined whether the SES patterning of BMI varied across 4 major US racial/ethnic groups (n = 37,150) by gender and birthplace. The shape and strength of the relation between SES and BMI differed markedly by race/ethnicity; and within racial/ethnic groups, it varied by gender. Irrespective of race/ethnicity, there were negative income and education gradients in BMI among women; however, there was considerable variation among men. The effect of education on BMI differed by birthplace in some groups. A clear education gradient in BMI was found among all US-born participants, a quadratic education pattern in BMI was found among foreign-born Asian men, a flat pattern was found among foreign-born Asian women, and no clear pattern was found in the remaining foreign-born groups. There is substantial heterogeneity in the contemporaneous SES gradient in BMI. US social disparities in BMI require simultaneous consideration of race/ethnicity and SES, but also birthplace.