Racial and Ethnic Differences in Obesity in People With Spinal Cord Injury: The Effects of Disadvantaged Neighborhood

Huacong Wen, Amanda L. Botticello, Sejong Bae, Allen W. Heinemann, Mike Boninger, Bethlyn Vergo Houlihan, Yuying Chen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: To examine the role of neighborhood in the relation between race and obesity in people with spinal cord injury (SCI). Design: A cross-sectional analysis of survey data from National SCI Database linked with neighborhood data from American Community Survey by census tract. Setting: A total of 17 SCI Model Systems centers. Participants: Individuals (N=3385; 2251 non-Hispanic whites, 760 non-Hispanic blacks, 374 Hispanics) who completed a follow-up assessment during 2006-2017 (mean duration of injury, 8.3±9.9y) and resided in 2934 census tracts. Intervention: Not applicable. Main Outcome Measures: Body mass index (BMI) (kg/m2). Results: The overall prevalence of obesity was 52.9% (BMI≥25.0) and 23.3% (BMI≥30.0). Hispanics were 67.0% more likely to be obese (BMI≥30.0 kg/m2) relative to non-Hispanic whites (odds ratio, 1.67; 95% confidence interval, 1.27-2.18), after controlling for demographic and injury-related characteristics. Most of the non-Hispanic blacks (66.8%) were living in neighborhoods with high concentrated disadvantaged index (CDI), compared to 35.0% of Hispanics and 9.2% of non-Hispanic whites living in this similar neighborhood status (P<.0001). After accounting for CDI, the odds of being obese in Hispanics decreased (odds ratio, 1.51; 95% confidence interval, 1.15-1.99). Regardless of race and ethnicity, people with SCI from disadvantaged neighborhoods were 42.0%-70.0% more likely to be obese than those from minimal CDI neighborhoods. Conclusions: Neighborhood characteristics partially diminish racial differences in obesity. Weight management for the SCI population should target those who are Hispanic and living in the disadvantaged neighborhoods.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1599-1606
Number of pages8
JournalArchives of physical medicine and rehabilitation
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2019


  • Health status disparities
  • Minority health
  • Obesity
  • Rehabilitation
  • Residence characteristics
  • Spinal cord injuries

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Rehabilitation


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