Study Explores the Association between Racial Discrimination and Obesity in Children and Adolescents

Tufts faculty and undergraduate students author new research which sheds light on risk factors for childhood obesity
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A new research study concludes that self-reported experiences of racial discrimination are associated with higher rates of obesity in children and adolescents in the US. The study involved over 6,000 participants and determined racial discrimination at baseline was associated with higher adiposity (body mass index and waist circumference) one year later. This study is important because childhood obesity is a major public health concern in the US where nearly 1 in 5 children and adolescents are obese. Racial discrimination is a known stressor that has been linked to higher body mass index in adults, but little is known about the association between racial discrimination and obesity in youth. The researchers conclude that “interventions to reduce exposure to racial discrimination in early life may help reduce the risk of excess weight gain throughout life.”

The lead authors of the study are Danielle M. Krobath, Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Eliot-Pearson Department of Child Study and Human Development and the Tufts Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, and Adolfo Cuevas, who was formerly the Gerald R. Gill Assistant Professor of Race, Culture and Society at Tufts University and now serves as an Assistant Professor of Social and Behavioral Sciences at NYU. Tufts students Joel Omolade, A25, and Aniyah Perry, A25, also served as coauthors of this study.