The association of individual, interpersonal, and physiological factors on obesity in African American women.




Reynolds, Courtney
Zhang, Qianzi
Dodgen, Leilani
Kitzman, Heather


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Objective(s): This study evaluated individual, interpersonal, and physiological factors related to obesity. By determining the various underlying factors associated to weight, potential protective factors against obesity can be identified. Background: 34.9% of adults are obese with African Americans (AA) demonstrating the highest rates of obesity (47.8%). Obesity is associated with a variety of chronic health conditions, and has been strongly linked to type II diabetes. In fact, nearly 90% of overweight or obese individuals have a concurrent diagnosis of type II diabetes. Methods: Associations between individual, interpersonal and physiological variables and Body Mass Index (BMI) were evaluated in 62 AA women (mean age 45.8 years [SD 12.4], mean BMI 37.4 [SD 8.3]). Individual and interpersonal variables including social support, self-efficacy for diet and physical activity, and weight management self-efficacy were evaluated with reliable and valid self-report surveys. Physiological variables including LDL cholesterol and Hemoglobin A1C were collected by trained measurement staff. BMI was calculated with objectively collected height and weight data. Results: Of the 62 participants, 21% were overweight (BMI 25-29.9), 24.3% were Class I Obese (BMI 30-34.9), 25.8% were Class II Obese (BMI 35-39.9),and 29.0% were Class III Obese (BMI≥40, extreme obesity). The only individual level variable associated with BMI was motivation for physical activity (r=-0.32; p=.01). The interpersonal variable of support for weight management was negatively associated with BMI (r=-0.23; p=.08). LDL cholesterol was not associated with BMI, however hemoglobin A1C was significantly associated with BMI (r=0.29; p<.05). Conclusion: In this sample, greater motivation for physical activity and social support for weight management were associated with lower BMI. Hemoglobin A1C was associated with greater BMI, demonstrating increased risk for diabetes based on weight. Future research should evaluate the role of motivation for physical activity and social support to improve weight management efforts in AA women.