Disentangling race, poverty, and place to understand the racial disparity in waist circumference among women

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


In the U.S., 54.8% of non-Hispanic Black women are obese, a rate that is 1.4 times greater than in White women. The drivers of this racial disparity are not yet clearly understood. We sought to disentangle race, household poverty, neighborhood racial composition, and neighborhood poverty to better understand the racial disparity in obesity among women. We used data from the 1999–2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey and the 2000 U.S. Census to examine the role of individual race, individual poverty, neighborhood racial composition, and neighborhood poverty on women’s risk of obesity. We found that individual race was the primary risk factor for obesity among women. Neighborhood effects did not account for the racial disparity. Understanding that race is a social, not a biologic construct, more work is needed to uncover what it is about race that produces racial disparities in obesity among women.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)153-170
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of health care for the poor and underserved
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2020



  • Health disparities
  • Obesity
  • Poverty
  • Race
  • Racial residential segregation
  • Women’s health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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