Effects of socioeconomic factors on obesity rates in four southern states and Colorado

Ethn Dis. Winter 2011;21(1):58-62.

Abstract

Objective: To examine the association between the increase in body mass index (BMI) and socioeconomic factors (eg, income level, % below poverty line, unemployment rates and persons receiving food stamps) in Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, Tennessee and Colorado.

Design: Data from Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, United States Department of Agriculture and the United States Department of Labor/Bureau of Labor were obtained and analyzed for the years 1995-2008.

Results: Results from this study showed a strong association between obesity and the tested variables (R2 = .767). Factors more closely related with obesity were: income below poverty level; receipt of food stamps; unemployment; and general income level. The coefficient of determination for these variables were 0.438, 0.427, 0.103 and 0.018, respectively. The highest rate of obesity was found in Mississippi (26.5% +/- 4.13%) followed by Alabama (25.18% +/- 4.41%), while Colorado had the lowest rate of obesity (15.4% +/- 2.63%). By ethnicity, African Americans had the highest rate of obesity (32.64 +/- 5.99%).

Conclusion: We found a significant effect of consumption of low-quality food, due to economic factors, on increased BMI. Besides physical activity, the quality and the quantity of food are important factors that contribute to obesity rates.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • African Americans / statistics & numerical data
  • Body Mass Index
  • Colorado / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Health Status Disparities*
  • Humans
  • Income
  • Male
  • Obesity / epidemiology*
  • Poverty*
  • Public Assistance
  • Regression Analysis
  • Risk Factors
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Southeastern United States / epidemiology
  • Tennessee / epidemiology
  • Unemployment