Neighborhood disadvantage and allostatic load in African American women at risk for obesity-related diseases

Marissa Tan, Abdullah Mamun, Heather Kitzman, Surendra Reddy Mandapati, Leilani Dodgen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Introduction African American women have higher rates of obesity and related chronic disease than other demographic groups. The poorer health of African American women compared with other groups may be explained by allostatic load, or cumulative physiologic stress, due to chronic socioeconomic disadvantage. The objective of this study was to evaluate neighborhood and individual factors contributing to allostatic load in African American women at risk for obesity-related diseases. Methods This study evaluated the relationship of allostatic load with neighborhood disadvantage, individual socioeconomic determinants, and synergism between neighborhood and socioeconomic disadvantage, along with health behaviors and other factors as mediators in African American women. Our sample consisted of 220 African American women at risk of obesity-related diseases enrolled in the Better Me Within program (mean [standard deviation] age, 50.1 [11.2] y; mean [standard deviation] body mass index, 36.7 [8.4] kg/m2). Allostatic load score for each participant was calculated by summing the number of biomarkers (of 9 biomarkers) that were determined to be in the high-risk quartile. Results Poisson regression of neighborhood disadvantage and individual socioeconomic determinants found that neighborhood disadvantage, but not education level or household income, was significantly associated with allostatic load (β = 0.22, SE, 0.10, P = .04). Tests for mediators showed that household income and alcohol consumption partially mediated the relationship between allostatic load score and neighborhood disadvantage but were not significant. Conclusion More research is necessary to determine the mechanisms by which neighborhoods can exacerbate and attenuate cumulative disadvantage among African American women. Policies and interventions that focus on neighborhood health may improve the outcomes of individual-level health interventions among women who reside in disadvantaged communities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number170143
JournalPreventing Chronic Disease
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2017
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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