Segregation and Obesity Prevalence among U.S. Adults

Jason D. Boardman, University of Colorado at Boulder
Jarron M. Saint Onge, University of Colorado at Boulder
Richard G. Rogers, University of Colorado at Boulder
Justin T. Denney, University of Colorado at Boulder

Using the National Health Interview Survey (1990-1994), we examine race differentials in obesity as both individual and neighborhood-level phenomena. We find that neighborhoods characterized by high proportions of black residents are four times more likely than areas in which the majority of the residents are white to exhibit a high prevalence of obesity. We also find that residents of neighborhoods in which at least one-quarter of the residents are black face a thirteen percent increase in the relative odds of being obese compared to residents of other communities. Roughly fifteen percent of the elevated risk of obesity among black adults is due to differential racial concentration across neighborhoods but the association between neighborhood racial composition and obesity is completely attenuated after including statistical controls for the poverty rate and obesity prevalence of respondent’s neighborhoods. These findings support key tenets of both the institutional and epidemic models of neighborhood effects.

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Presented in Poster Session 6: Applied Demography, Methods, Health and Mortality