Racial and Ethnic Differences in Obesity in People With Spinal Cord Injury: The Effects of Disadvantaged Neighborhood

Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2019 Sep;100(9):1599-1606. doi: 10.1016/j.apmr.2019.02.008. Epub 2019 Mar 25.


Objective: To examine the role of neighborhood in the relation between race and obesity in people with spinal cord injury (SCI).

Design: A cross-sectional analysis of survey data from National SCI Database linked with neighborhood data from American Community Survey by census tract.

Setting: A total of 17 SCI Model Systems centers.

Participants: Individuals (N=3385; 2251 non-Hispanic whites, 760 non-Hispanic blacks, 374 Hispanics) who completed a follow-up assessment during 2006-2017 (mean duration of injury, 8.3±9.9y) and resided in 2934 census tracts.

Intervention: Not applicable.

Main outcome measures: Body mass index (BMI) (kg/m2).

Results: The overall prevalence of obesity was 52.9% (BMI≥25.0) and 23.3% (BMI≥30.0). Hispanics were 67.0% more likely to be obese (BMI≥30.0 kg/m2) relative to non-Hispanic whites (odds ratio, 1.67; 95% confidence interval, 1.27-2.18), after controlling for demographic and injury-related characteristics. Most of the non-Hispanic blacks (66.8%) were living in neighborhoods with high concentrated disadvantaged index (CDI), compared to 35.0% of Hispanics and 9.2% of non-Hispanic whites living in this similar neighborhood status (P<.0001). After accounting for CDI, the odds of being obese in Hispanics decreased (odds ratio, 1.51; 95% confidence interval, 1.15-1.99). Regardless of race and ethnicity, people with SCI from disadvantaged neighborhoods were 42.0%-70.0% more likely to be obese than those from minimal CDI neighborhoods.

Conclusions: Neighborhood characteristics partially diminish racial differences in obesity. Weight management for the SCI population should target those who are Hispanic and living in the disadvantaged neighborhoods.

Keywords: Health status disparities; Minority health; Obesity; Rehabilitation; Residence characteristics; Spinal cord injuries.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • African Americans / statistics & numerical data*
  • Body Mass Index
  • Comorbidity
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • European Continental Ancestry Group / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Hispanic Americans / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / ethnology*
  • Poverty Areas
  • Prevalence
  • Residence Characteristics*
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / ethnology*
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Young Adult