Criminal Justice Contact, Stressors, and Obesity-Related Health Problems Among Black Adults in the USA

  • Paul C. Archibald
  • Lauren Parker
  • Roland ThorpeJr.


Criminal justice contact—defined as lifetime arrest, parole, or incarceration, seems to exacerbate chronic conditions, and those who are most likely to have had contact with the criminal justice system, such as Black adults, often already have pre-existing disproportionately high rates of stress and chronic conditions due to the social determinants of health that affect underrepresented minorities. Findings from this study suggest that there is a mechanism that links the stressors among Black adults manifested by such factors as family, financial, neighborhood, and personal problems with criminal justice contact to obesity-related health status. Using the National Survey of American Life (NSAL), modified Poisson regression analyses were used to determine the association between criminal justice contact, stressors, and obesity-related health problems among a national sample of Black adults (n = 5008). In the full model, the odds of experiencing obesity-related health problems for Black adults who had criminal justice contact was reduced (PR, 1.23 to 1.14) and not statistically significant. Black adults who reported experiencing family stressors (PR, 1.21; 95% CI, 1.08, 1.36), financial stressors (PR, 1.30; 95% CI, 1.16, 1.47), and personal stressors (PR, 1.16; 95% CI, 1.02, 1.31) were statistically significant and higher than those who reported not experiencing any of these stressors; neighborhood stressors was not statistically significant. The evidence suggests a relationship between the stressors associated with criminal justice contact and obesity-related health status. These findings emphasize the need to further explore the family, financial, and personal stressors for Black adults with criminal justice contact in order to further our understanding of their obesity-related health problems.ᅟ


Criminal justice contact Stressors Obesity-related health problems Black adults 



This research was supported by a grant from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute to the University of Mississippi Medical Center (1R25HL126145-01—MPIs Drs. Bettina Beech and Keith Norris). Research conducted by the last author was supported by a grant from the National Center for Minority Health and Health Disparities (P60MD000214). The last author is a visiting scholar in the Center for Biobehavioral Health Disparities Research in the Social Science Research Institute at Duke University.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest Statement

The authors declare that there are no conflicts of interest.


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Copyright information

© W. Montague Cobb-NMA Health Institute 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Social WorkMorgan State UniversityBaltimoreUSA
  2. 2.Bloomberg School of Public Health, Program for Research on Men’s Health Hopkins Center for Health Disparities SolutionsJohns Hopkins UniversityBaltimoreUSA

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