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Explaining the Female Black-White Obesity Gap: A Decomposition Analysis of Proximal Causes

  • Johnston, David W.

    ()

    (Monash University)

  • Lee, Wang-Sheng

    ()

    (Deakin University)

There exists remarkably large differences in body weights and obesity prevalence between black and white women in the US, and crucially these differences are a significant contributor to black-white inequalities in health. In this paper, we investigate the most proximal explanations for the weight gap, namely differences in diet and exercise. More specifically, we decompose black-white differences in body mass index and waist-to-height ratio into components reflecting black-white differences in energy intake and energy expenditure. The analysis indicates that over consumption is much more important than a lack of exercise in explaining the weight gap, which suggests that diet interventions will have to play a fundamental role if the weight gap between black and white women is to decline.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 5841.

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Length: 31 pages
Date of creation: Jul 2011
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: Demography, 2011, 48 (4), 1429-1450
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp5841
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