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Journal of Youth and Adolescence

, Volume 35, Issue 4, pp 641–651 | Cite as

Community Influence on Adolescent Obesity: Race/Ethnic Differences

  • K. A. Thulitha Wickrama
  • K. A. S. WickramaEmail author
  • Chalandra M. Bryant
Article

Using a sample of 20,000 adolescents (Add Health data), this study examined the influences of community poverty and race/ethnicity on adolescent obesity. Multilevel analyses revealed strong evidence for the unique influences of community poverty and race/ethnicity on adolescent obesity net of family characteristics. The prevalence of obesity is significantly higher in poor communities than in affluent communities; and it is higher among African Americans, Hispanics and Native Americans than among Whites. The interaction between race/ethnicity and community poverty indicates that race/ethnicity moderates the influence of community poverty on the prevalence of obesity. Although the prevalence of obesity is higher among minorities than among Whites, the influence of community poverty is stronger for Whites than for minorities, suggesting that unlike Whites, most minority groups may not accrue benefits of structural community advantages. The state of being overweight as the outcome variable provided essentially the same findings. The practical implications are discussed.

Key Words

community poverty race adolescent obesity 

Notes

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

This research is based on data from the Add Health project, a program project designed by J. Richard Udry (PI) and Peter Bearman, and funded by grant P01-HD31921 from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development to the Carolina Population Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, with cooperative funding participation by the National Cancer Institute; the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism; the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders; the National Institute on Drug Abuse; the National Institute of General Medical Sciences; the National Institute of Mental Health; the National Institute of Nursing Research; the office of AIDS Research, NIH; the Office of Behavior and Social Science Research, NIH; the Office of the Director, NIH; the Office of Research on Women's Health, NIH; the Office of Population Affairs, DHHS; the National Center for Health Statistics, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, DHHS; the Office of Minority Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, DHHS; the Office of Minority Health, Office of Public Health and Science, DHHS; the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, DHHS; and the National Science Foundation. Persons interested in obtaining data files from The National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health should contact Add Health Project, Carolina Population Center, 123 West Franklin Street, Chapel Hill, NC 27516-3997 (email: addhealth@unc.edu).

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • K. A. Thulitha Wickrama
    • 1
  • K. A. S. Wickrama
    • 2
    • 3
    Email author
  • Chalandra M. Bryant
    • 1
  1. 1.Human Development and Family StudiesThe Pennsylvania State UniversityUniversity ParkUSA
  2. 2.Institute for Social and Behavioral ResearchAmesUSA
  3. 3.Human Development and Family Studies at Iowa State UniversityAmesUSA

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