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Sustained obesity and depressive symptoms over 6 years: race by gender differences in the health and retirement study

Carter, Julia (2017) Sustained obesity and depressive symptoms over 6 years: race by gender differences in the health and retirement study. Master Essay, University of Pittsburgh.

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Background: Although obesity and physical activity influence psychosocial well-being, these effects may vary based on race, gender, and their intersection. Using 6-year follow-up data of a nationally representative sample of adults over age of 50 in the United States, this study aimed to explore race by gender differences in effects of sustained high body mass index (BMI) and physical activity on continued depressive symptoms (CES-D) and self-rated health (SRH).
Methods: Data came from waves 7, 8, and 10 (2004–2010) of the Health and Retirement Study (HRS), an ongoing national cohort started in 1992. The study enrolled a representative sample of Americans (n = 19,280) over the age of 50. Latent factors, sustained high BMI and physical activity (predictors) and sustained poor SRH and high depressive symptoms (outcomes), were calculated using the respective variable measurements in 2004, 2006, and 2010. Age, education, and income were included in the analysis as potential confounders. The two primary paths of interest in the current study were (1) the association between sustained high level of BMI and high depressive symptoms, and (2) the association between sustained high level of BMI and sustained poor SRH. Multi-group structural equation modeling (SEM) was used to test the effects of BMI and physical activity on depressive symptoms and SRH, where the groups were defined based on race by gender.
Results: Group differences were apparent in the direction and significance of the association between sustained high BMI and depressive symptoms. The association between sustained high BMI and depressive symptoms was positive and significant for White women (B = 0.03, p = 0.007) and non-significant for White men (B = −0.03, p = 0.062), Black men (B = −0.02, p = 0.564) and Black women (B = 0.03, p = 0.110). No group differences were observed in the paths from sustained physical activity to depressive symptoms, or from physical activity or BMI to SRH.
Conclusion: Sustained high BMI and high depressive symptoms after age 50 are significantly associated only for White women. As the association between sustained health problems such as depression and obesity are not universal across race and gender groups, clinical and public health programs that target multiple health problems may have differential effects across race by gender groups. The public health significance of this study is the importance of tailored interventions when addressing differential associations across groups.


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Item Type: Other Thesis, Dissertation, or Long Paper (Master Essay)
Status: Published
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Carter, Juliajdc121@pitt.edujdc121
ContributionContributors NameEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairDiergaarde, Brendadiergaardeb@upmc.eduUNSPECIFIEDUNSPECIFIED
Committee MemberRussell, Joannejoanner@pitt.eduUNSPECIFIEDUNSPECIFIED
Committee MemberAssari, Shervinassari@umich.eduUNSPECIFIEDUNSPECIFIED
Date: 19 April 2017
Date Type: Submission
Defense Date: April 2017
Submission Date: 2 April 2017
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 48
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Graduate School of Public Health > Epidemiology
Degree: MPH - Master of Public Health
Thesis Type: Master Essay
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: ethnic groups, race, Blacks, Whites, depressive symptoms, obesity, physical activity, self-rated health, well-being, public health
Date Deposited: 14 Jul 2017 14:49
Last Modified: 14 Jul 2017 14:49


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