Mind the Gap: Race/Ethnic and Socioeconomic Disparities in Obesity
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Race/ethnic and socioeconomic status (SES) disparities in obesity are substantial and may widen in the future. We review nine potential mechanisms that recent research has used to explain obesity disparities. Those nine mechanisms fall into three broad groups—health behaviors, biological factors, and the social environment—which incorporate both proximate and upstream determinants of obesity disparities. Efforts to reduce the prevalence of obesity in the US population and to close race/ethnic and SES disparities in obesity will likely require the use of multifaceted interventions that target multiple mechanisms simultaneously. Unfortunately, relatively few of the mechanisms reviewed herein have been tested in an intervention framework.
KeywordsBody mass index Obesity Overweight Race/ethnicity Socioeconomic status Disparities
The authors acknowledge support from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases of the National Institutes of Health (award number R21DK089414) and the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development funded University of Colorado Population Center (award number R24HD066613). The National Institutes of Health played no role in the preparation of this manuscript or the decision to submit it for publication. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.
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Conflict of Interest
Patrick M. Krueger and Eric N. Reither declare that they have no conflict of interest.
Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent
This article does not include human or animal research subjects.
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