Explaining Racial Disparities in Obesity Among Men: Does Place Matter?

Roland J. Thorpe, Elizabeth Kelley, Janice V. Bowie, Derek M. Griffith, Marino Bruce, Thomas LaVeist

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


National data indicate that Black men have higher rates of obesity than White men. Black men also experience earlier onset of many chronic conditions and premature mortality linked to obesity. Explanations for these disparities have been underexplored, and existing national-level studies may be limited in their ability to explicate these long-standing patterns. National data generally do not account for race differences in risk exposures resulting from racial segregation or the confounding between race and socioeconomic status. Therefore, these differences in obesity may be a function of social environment rather than race. This study examined disparities in obesity among Black and White men living in the same social and environmental conditions, who have similar education levels and incomes using data from the Exploring Health Disparities in Integrated Communities-SWB (EHDIC-SWB) study. The findings were compared with the 2003 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS). Logistic regression was used to examine the association between race and obesity adjusting for demographics, socioeconomic status, and health conditions. In the NHIS, Black men had a higher odds of obesity (odds ratio = 1.29, 95% confidence interval = 1.12-1.49) than White men. However in the EHDIC-SWB, which accounts for social and environmental conditions of where these men live, Black men had similar odds of obesity (odds ratio = 1.06, 95% confidence interval = 0.70-1.62) compared with White men. These data highlight the importance of the role that setting plays in understanding race disparities in obesity among men. Social environment may be a key determinant of health when seeking to understand race disparities in obesity among Black and White men.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)464-472
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican journal of men's health
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1 2015


  • health inequality/disparity
  • male
  • obesity
  • social determinants of health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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