Racial Discrimination, Body Mass Index, and Insulin Resistance: A Longitudinal Analysis

Gene H. Brody*, Tianyi Yu, Edith Chen, Katherine B. Ehrlich, Gregory E. Miller

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Objective: To examine prospective relations of perceived racial discrimination at ages 16-18 with body mass index (BMI) at ages 19-21 and insulin resistance (IR) at ages 25 and 27 among Black youth in the rural South, and to determine whether BMI connected discrimination to IR as a mediator. Method: Participants were 315 African American adolescents in rural counties in Georgia who provided data on their perceptions of discrimination during adolescence. BMI was measured during a yearly home visit, and a certified phlebotomist drew a fasting blood sample from which IR was measured. Results: The data analysis, with all confounding variables controlled, revealed that, over time, (a) discrimination was associated positively with both BMI and IR; (b) BMI was associated positively with IR; and (c) BMI acted as a mediator connecting discrimination with IR. Conclusions: The findings are consistent with the hypothesis that exposure to discrimination presages IR through its effects on BMI.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1107-1114
Number of pages8
JournalHealth Psychology
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2018


  • African Americans
  • Body mass index
  • Insulin resistance
  • Racism
  • Rural population

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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