Disparities by ethnicity and socioeconomic status in the use of weight loss treatments

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Background: Prior research suggests that ethnic minorities and individuals of low socioeconomic status (SES) may be more likely to attempt weight loss using unproven methods. Methods: Data were from a national, random-digit-dial telephone survey of weight loss practices. Seven modalities of weight loss were examined. Multivariable analysis controlled for clinical and sociodemographic variables (including race/ethnicity, SES, and body mass index), as well as self- perception of weight and weight loss attitudes. Results: In multivariable analysis, African Americans (OR, 1.71; 95% CI, 1.05-2.78; p = 03) and Latinos (OR, 1.69; 95% CI, 1.11- 2.60; p = .016) were more likely than Caucasians to report use of over-the-counter (OTC) weight loss supplements. African Americans (OR, 0.39; 95% CI, 0.21-0.71; p = .002) and Latinos (OR, 0.56; CI, 0.33-0.97; p = .038) also were less likely than Caucasians to report use of commercial weight loss programs. Higher-SES individuals were more likely than low-SES persons to report self-directed attempts at weight loss (OR, 1.39; CI, 1.00-1.93; p = .05) and commercial programs (OR, 2.12; CI, 1.51-2.97; p < .001) and less likely to report use of OTC supplements (OR, 0.64; CI, 0.47-0.88]; p = .006). African Americans were more likely than Caucasians to report use of medically supervised programs (OR, 1.74; CI, 1.06-2.86; p = .028). Conclusions: With the exception of medically supervised programs, ethnic minorities and low-SES individuals are generally more likely to report use of unproven methods for weight loss and less likely to report use of potentially benefi-cial treatments. These findings should be explored in more detail. Use of proven treatments for weight management should be encouraged.

Author-supplied keywords

  • *ethnic group
  • *social status
  • *weight reduction
  • African American
  • Caucasian
  • Hispanic
  • Mediterranean diet
  • adult
  • article
  • body mass
  • diet
  • diet supplementation
  • female
  • health belief
  • health status
  • health survey
  • human
  • interview
  • male
  • multivariate analysis
  • non prescription drug
  • obesity
  • patient attitude
  • priority journal
  • questionnaire
  • self concept

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  • PMID: 2009105255

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