, Volume 20, Issue 5, pp 665-674
Date: 10 Mar 2011

Race and gender associations between obesity and nine health-related quality-of-life measures

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To assess how health-related quality of life (HRQoL) varies by body mass index (BMI) category among gender and racial subgroups using nine HRQoL measures.


Among 3,710 US adults, we evaluated self-reported height, weight, and HRQoL that was measured by six indexes (EQ-5D; HUI2; HUI3; SF-6D; QWB-SA; HALex) and three summary measures (theta; PCS; MCS). Mean HRQoL was estimated by weighted regression for normal, overweight, and obese subgroups (BMI: 18.5–24.9 kg/m2; 25–29.9; and 30–50).


HRQoL was significantly lower (P < 0.0001) with increasing BMI category except for MCS. Obese individuals were 5.3 units lower on PCS (1–100 scale) and 0.05–0.11 lower on the HRQoL indexes (0–1 scale) than those with normal weight. MCS scores were significantly lower for obese than normal-weight among women (P = 0.04) but not men (P = 0.11). Overweight blacks had higher HRQoL than blacks in other BMI categories (P = 0.033).


Six commonly used HRQoL indexes and two of three health status summary measures indicated lower HRQoL with obesity and overweight than with normal BMI, but the degree of decrement varied by index. The association appeared driven primarily by physical health, although mental health also played a role among women. Counter to hypotheses, blacks may have highest HRQoL when overweight.