Racial and ethnic disparities in the association between financial hardship and self-reported weight change during the first year of the pandemic in the U.S.

Racial and ethnic disparities in the association between financial hardship and self-reported weight change during the first year of the pandemic in the U.S.

Publication date: Jan 22, 2024

Studies have shown that financial hardship can impact weight change; however, it is unclear what the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has had on weight change in U. S. adults, or whether racial-ethnic groups were impacted differentially. We estimated the association between financial hardship and self-reported weight change using data from the cross-sectional COVID-19’s Unequal Racial Burden (CURB) survey, a nationally representative online survey of 5,500 American Indian/Alaska Native, Asian, Black/African American, Latino (English- and Spanish-speaking), Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander, White, and multiracial adults conducted from 12/2020 to 2/2021. Financial hardship was measured over six domains (lost income, debt, unmet general expenses, unmet healthcare expenses, housing insecurity, and food insecurity). The association between each financial hardship domain and self-reported 3-level weight change variable were estimated using multinomial logistic regression, adjusting for sociodemographic and self-reported health. After adjustment, food insecurity was strongly associated with weight loss among American Indian/Alaska Native (aOR = 2. 18, 95% CI = 1. 05-4. 77), Black/African American (aOR = 1. 77, 95% CI = 1. 02-3. 11), and Spanish-speaking Latino adults (aOR = 2. 32, 95% CI = 1. 01-5. 35). Unmet healthcare expenses were also strongly associated with weight loss among Black/African American, English-speaking Latino, Spanish-speaking Latino, and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander adults (aORs = 2. 00-2. 14). Other domains were associated with weight loss and/or weight gain, but associations were not as strong and less consistent across race-ethnicity. In conclusion, food insecurity and unmet healthcare expenses during the pandemic were strongly associated with weight loss among racial-ethnic minority groups. Using multi-dimensional measures of financial hardship provides a comprehensive assessment of the effects of specific financial hardship domains on weight change among diverse racial-ethnic groups.

Concepts Keywords
Alaska COVID-19
Financial Financial hardship
Latino Food insecurity
Pandemic Weight change

Semantics

Type Source Name
disease MESH COVID-19 pandemic
disease MESH housing insecurity
disease MESH weight loss
disease MESH weight gain

Original Article

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