Quality of Life Research

, Volume 20, Issue 5, pp 665–674 | Cite as

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

  • Tanya G. K. Bentley
  • Mari Palta
  • Adam J. Paulsen
  • Dasha Cherepanov
  • Nancy Cross Dunham
  • David Feeny
  • Robert M. Kaplan
  • Dennis G. Fryback



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.


Body mass index Obesity Health-related quality of life Health status EQ-5D SF-6D 



Body mass index


Health-related quality of life


EuroQol–5 dimensions


Health utilities index mark 2


Health utilities index mark 3


Short-form–6 dimensions


Quality of well-being scale—self-administered


Health and activities limitations index






Physical component score of SF-36v2™


Mental component score of SF-36v2™


Total number


Confidence interval


Clinically important difference


Standard error



This work was supported by grant #P01-AG020679 from National Institute on Aging to University of Wisconsin. Dasha Cherepanov was supported by a grant (T32 HS000046) to the University of California, Los Angeles, and the RAND Corporation (Santa Monica, CA) from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality for a postdoctoral fellowship in health services research.

Conflict of interest

David Feeny has a proprietary interest in Health Utilities Incorporated, Dundas, Ontario, Canada. HUInc. Distributes copyrighted Health Utilities Index (HUI) materials and provides methodological advice on the use of HUI. None of the other authors declare a conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tanya G. K. Bentley
    • 1
  • Mari Palta
    • 3
  • Adam J. Paulsen
    • 3
  • Dasha Cherepanov
    • 2
    • 4
  • Nancy Cross Dunham
    • 3
  • David Feeny
    • 5
    • 6
  • Robert M. Kaplan
    • 4
  • Dennis G. Fryback
    • 3
  1. 1.Partnership for Health Analytic Research, LLCBeverly HillsUSA
  2. 2.RAND CorporationSanta MonicaUSA
  3. 3.Department of Population Health SciencesUniversity of WisconsinMadisonUSA
  4. 4.Department of Health ServicesUniversity of CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA
  5. 5.Center for Health ResearchPortlandUSA
  6. 6.Health Utilities IncorporatedDundasCanada

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