Examining the Association Between Body Mass Index and Weight Related Quality of Life in Black and White Women
Obesity not only increases risk for morbidity/mortality, but also impacts the quality of life of obese individuals. In the United States, black women have the highest prevalence of obesity of any other group with approximately 80% of black women over age 20 having a body mass index (BMI) ≥ 25 kg/m2. We aimed to examine the association between BMI and quality of life in this high risk population compared to this association in white women, using the Impact of Weight on Quality of Life (IWQOL)-Lite questionnaire. Data from 172 black women (mean BMI = 35.7; age = 40.5) and 171 white women (mean BMI = 35.5; age = 40.4) were collected between 2000 and 2010 analyzed in 2010. The mean IWQOL-Lite total score was 81.6 for black women compared to 66.9 for white women, a statistically significant difference. Hierarchical linear regression models revealed a significant BMI-by-race interaction indicating that the relationship between BMI and IWQOL-Lite score was moderated by race. Our findings suggest notable differences in weight-related quality of life in black and white women. At similar BMIs, black women consistently reported better quality of life than white women on all IWQOL-Lite subscales. The greatest difference in IWQOL-Lite scores between black and white women was seen in the self-esteem subscale. Additional research is needed to understand how to incorporate the weight perspectives of black women into weight management messages and interventions.