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Author Notes:

Address correspondence to Solveig Argeseanu Cunningham, PhD; Hubert Department of Global Health; Emory University; Rollins School of Public Health; 1518 Clifton Road NE, Room 738; Atlanta, GA 30322; 404. 727.6486; 404.727.4590 (fax); sargese@sph.emory.edu

Design and concept of study: Argeseanu Cunningham, Vaquera, Long Acquisition of data: Argeseanu Cunningham Data analysis and interpretation: Argeseanu Cunningham, Vaquera Manuscript draft: Argeseanu Cunningham, Vaquera, Long Statistical expertise: Argeseanu Cunningham, Vaquera Acquisition of funding: Argeseanu Cunningham, Vaquera Administrative: Argeseanu Cunningham, Long Supervision: Argeseanu Cunningham, Vaquera

Persons interested in obtaining data files from Add Health should contact Add Health, Carolina Population Center, 123 W. Franklin Street, Chapel Hill, NC 27516-2524 (ude.cnu@htlaehdda).

The authors are grateful to K.M. Venkat Narayan for comments.


Research Funding:

This study was supported by a grant from the NIDDK (1R21DK081878 - 01A1).

The research used data from Add Health, a program project designed by J. Richard Udry, Peter S. Bearman, and Kathleen Mullan Harris, and funded by a grant P01-HD31921 from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, with cooperative funding from 17 other agencies. No direct support was received from grant P01-HD31921 for this analysis.


  • Adolescence
  • Friendship
  • Obesity
  • Body Weight
  • Race
  • Ethnicity
  • Social Integration

Race, Ethnicity, and the Relevance of Obesity for Social Integration


Journal Title:

Ethnicity and Disease


Volume 22, Number 3


, Pages 317-323

Type of Work:

Article | Post-print: After Peer Review


Objective To examine race and ethnic differences in the importance of obesity for social integration using the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health). Design A cross-sectional study utilizing survey-adjusted statistics and multivariate logistic and linear regression models. Models were stratified by sex and included interaction terms capturing race, ethnicity and obesity. Setting United States of America. Participants A nationally representative sample of 15,355 respondents grades 7 through 12 who participated in both the In-School and In-Home Wave I surveys of Add Health. Main Outcome Measures Four self-reported and schoolmate-reported indicators of social integration. Results The consequences of obesity for social integration are greatest for White adolescents, who were selected by almost 2 fewer schoolmates as friends and had half the odds of having their friendships reciprocated compared with non-obese White adolescents. The social disadvantage of obesity was lower for non-White adolescents; though they are selected by significantly fewer schoolmates as friends and were less likely to have their friendships reciprocated, they did not face additional discrimination from being both obese and minority. Conclusions There are significant differences between obese and non-obese adolescents by race and ethnicity in friendships. As friendships are among the most valued assets in adolescence, understanding the impact of obesity on access to friendships for diverse adolescents is a necessary component to understanding the complex motivations that guide health-related behavior at these formative ages.
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