Virginia W Chang
Associate Professor of Social and Behavioral Sciences
Virginia W. Chang, MD, PhD is Associate Professor of Global Public Health at NYU School of Global Public Health, Associate Professor of Population Health at NYU School of Medicine, and Affiliated Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology at NYU. Dr. Chang is a graduate of the Inteflex Program at the University of Michigan, where she received her BS and MD degrees. She then completed a residency in internal medicine, fellowship training with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholars Program, and a PhD in sociology, all at the University of Chicago. Prior to joining NYU, Dr. Chang was in the Division of General Internal Medicine at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and a staff physician at the Philadelphia Veterans Administration Medical Center.
As a physician and sociologist, Dr. Chang integrates perspectives from medicine, epidemiology, sociology, and demography in her research. Much of her work has focused on obesity and health disparities, engaging topics such as the influence of socially structured context (e.g., racial segregation, income inequality, neighborhood social/physical disorder) on obesity; the relationship of obesity to mortality and disability; the influence of weight status on the quality of medical care; socioeconomic disparities in health and mortality; and the inter-relationships between health, medical technologies, and stratification.
Her research program has been funded by the NICHD, NHLBI, and NIA of the National Institutes of Health, the Veterans Health Administration, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Measy Foundation, the American Diabetes Association, and the Russell Sage Foundation. She is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Society of General Internal Medicine Award for Outstanding Junior Investigator of the Year and the Marjorie A. Bowman Award from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine for achievement in the health evaluation sciences. Dr. Chang is also a Diplomate of the American Board of Internal Medicine.
Dr. Chang’s publications span a variety of disciplines, including journals such as JAMA, Annals of Internal Medicine, JAMA Internal Medicine, Health Affairs, American Journal of Public Health, American Journal of Epidemiology, Journal of Health & Social Behavior, Social Science & Medicine, Demography, and Social Forces. She was recently an Associate Editor of the Journal of Health & Social Behavior.
BS, Biomedical Sciences and Philosophy, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MIMD, Medicine, University of Michigan Medical School, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MIMA, Sociology, University of Chicago, Chicago, ILPhD, Sociology, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL-Fellow, Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholars Program, University of Chicago, Chicago, ILResident, Department of Medicine, University of Chicago, Chicago, ILIntern, Department of Medicine, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL-Diplomate, American Board of Internal MedicineLicensed Medical Physician, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
Honors and awards
Majorie A. Bowman Research Award, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine (2010)Outstanding Junior Investigator of the Year, Society of General Internal Medicine (2008)Robert Austrian Faculty Award for Health Evaluation Reserach, Department of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine (2008)Physician Faculty Scholars Award, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (2007)Finalist, Hamolsky Junior Facutly Award, Society of General Internal Medicine (2004)Finalist, Richard Saller Prize for Best Dissertation in the Division of the Social Sciences, University of Chicago (2003)Graduate University Fellowship, University of Chicago (2001)Eli G. Rochelson Memorial Award for Excellence in Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, University of Michigan Medical School (1994)Biomedical Research Program Scholarship, University of Michigan Medical School (1991)James B. Angell Scholar, University of Michigan (1988)William J. Branstrom Freshman Prize, University of Michigan (1986)
Areas of research and study
Global HealthHealth DisparitiesInternal MedicineObesityPopulation HealthSocial Behaviors
Anti-Vaccine Attitudes among Adults in the U.S. during the COVID-19 Pandemic after Vaccine RolloutChoi, J., Lieff, S., Meltzer, G., Grivel, M., Chang, V., Yang, L., & Desjarlais, D. (n.d.).
Issue6AbstractEven though vaccination is the most effective measure against COVID-19 infections, vaccine rollout efforts have been hampered by growing anti-vaccine attitudes. Based on current knowledge, we identified three domains (beliefs, discrimination, and news) as our correlates of primary interest to examine the association with anti-vaccine attitudes. This is one of the first studies to examine key correlates of anti-vaccine attitudes during the critical early stages of vaccine implementation in the United States. An online survey was administered in May 2021 to a non-representative, nationally based sample of adults (N = 789). Using multivariable logistic regression analysis, we found that individuals who expressed worry about COVID-19 (OR = 0.34, 95% CI 0.21, 0.55) and had greater knowledge of COVID-19 (OR = 0.50, 95% CI 0.25, 0.99) were less likely to hold antivaccine attitudes. Conversely, individuals who held stigmatizing views of COVID-19 (OR = 2.47, 95% CI 1.53, 3.99), had experienced racial discrimination (OR = 2.14, 95% CI 1.25, 3.67) and discrimination related to COVID-19 (OR = 2.84, 95% CI 1.54, 5.24), and who had been watching Fox News (OR = 3.95, 95% CI 2.61, 5.97) were more likely to hold anti-vaccine attitudes. These findings suggest COVID-19 beliefs, experiences of discrimination, and news sources should be considered when designing targeted approaches to address the anti-vaccine movement.
Obesity and Patient Activation: Confidence, Communication, and Information Seeking BehaviorChang, J. E., Lindenfeld, Z., & Chang, V. W. (n.d.).
Journal titleJournal of Primary Care and Community Health
Volume13AbstractIntroduction/Objectives: Patient activation describes the knowledge, skills, and confidence that allow patients to actively engage in managing their health. Prior studies have found a strong relationship between patient activation and clinical outcomes, costs of care, and patient experience. Patients who are obese or overweight may be less engaged than normal weight patients due to lower confidence or stigma associated with their weight. The objective of this study is to examine whether weight status is associated with patient activation and its sub-domains (confidence, communication, information-seeking behavior). Methods: This repeated cross-sectional study of the 2011 to 2013 Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey (MCBS) included a nationally representative sample of 13,721 Medicare beneficiaries. Weight categories (normal, overweight, obese) were based on body mass index. Patient activation (high, medium, low) was based on responses to the MCBS Patient Activation Supplement. Results: We found no differences in overall patient activation by weight categories. However, compared to those with normal weight, people with obesity had a higher relative risk (RRR 1.24; CI 1.09-1.42) of “low” rather than “high” confidence. Respondents with obesity had a lower relative risk (RRR 0.82; CI 0.73-0.92) of “low” rather than “high” ratings of communication with their doctor. Discussion and Conclusions: Though patients with obesity may be less confident in their ability to manage their health, they are more likely to view their communication with physicians as conducive to self-care management. Given the high receptivity among patients with obesity toward physician communication, physicians may be uniquely situated to guide and support patients in gaining the confidence they need to reach weight loss goals.
Patient-Provider Communication Quality, 2002-2016: A Population-based Study of Trends and Racial Differences
Trends in Prescription Opioid and Nonopioid Analgesic Use by Race, 1996–2017
Ultra-processed food consumption among US adults from 2001 to 2018Juul, F., Parekh, N., Martinez-Steele, E., Monteiro, C. A., & Chang, V. W. (n.d.).
Journal titleAmerican Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Page(s)211-221AbstractBackground: Accumulating evidence links ultra-processed foods to poor diet quality and chronic diseases. Understanding dietary trends is essential to inform priorities and policies to improve diet quality and prevent diet-related chronic diseases. Data are lacking, however, for trends in ultra-processed food intake. Objectives: We examined US secular trends in food consumption according to processing level from 2001 to 2018. Methods: We analyzed dietary data collected by 24-h recalls from adult participants (aged >19 y; N = 40,937) in 9 cross-sectional waves of the NHANES (2001-2002 to 2017-2018). We calculated participants' intake of minimally processed foods, processed culinary ingredients, processed foods, and ultra-processed foods as the relative contribution to daily energy intake (%kcal) using the NOVA framework. Trends analyses were performed using linear regression, testing for linear trends by modeling the 9 surveys as an ordinal independent variable. Models were adjusted for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education level, and income. Consumption trends were reported for the full sample and stratified by sex, age groups, race/ethnicity, education level, and income level. Results: Adjusting for changes in population characteristics, the consumption of ultra-processed foods increased among all US adults from 2001-2002 to 2017-2018 (from 53.5 to 57.0 %kcal; P-trend < 0.001). The trend was consistent among all sociodemographic subgroups, except Hispanics, in stratified analyses. In contrast, the consumption of minimally processed foods decreased significantly over the study period (from 32.7 to 27.4 %kcal; P-trend < 0.001) and across all sociodemographic strata. The consumption of processed culinary ingredients increased from 3.9 to 5.4 %kcal (P-trend < 0.001), whereas the intake of processed foods remained stable at ∼10 %kcal throughout the study period (P-trend = 0.052). Conclusions: The current findings highlight the high consumption of ultra-processed foods in all parts of the US population and demonstrate that intake has continuously increased in the majority of the population in the past 2 decades.
Behavioral correlates of COVID-19 worry: Stigma, knowledge, and news sourceMeltzer, G. Y., Chang, V. W., Lieff, S. A., Grivel, M. M., Yang, L. H., & Des Jarlais, D. C. (n.d.).
Journal titleInternational journal of environmental research and public health
Issue21AbstractNon-adherence to COVID-19 guidelines may be attributable to low levels of worry. This study assessed whether endorsing COVID-19-stigmatizing restrictions, COVID-19 knowledge, and preferred news source were associated with being ‘very worried’ versus ‘not at all’ or ‘somewhat’ worried about contracting COVID-19. Survey data were collected in July–August 2020 from N = 547 New York State (NYS) and N = 504 national Amazon MTurk workers. Respondents who endorsed COVID-19 stigmatizing restrictions (NYS OR 1.96; 95% CI 1.31, 2.92; national OR 1.80; 95% CI 1.06, 3.08) and consumed commercial news (NYS OR 1.89; 95% CI 1.21, 2.96; national OR 1.93; 95% CI 1.24, 3.00) were more likely to be very worried. National respondents who consumed The New York Times (OR 1.52; 95% CI 1.00, 2.29) were more likely to be very worried, while those with little knowledge (OR 0.24; 95% CI 0.13, 0.43) were less likely to be very worried. NYS (OR 2.66; 95% CI 1.77, 4.00) and national (OR 3.17; 95% CI 1.95, 5.16) respondents with probable depression were also more likely to be very worried. These characteristics can help identify those requiring intervention to maximize perceived threat to COVID-19 and encourage uptake of protective behaviors while protecting psychological wellbeing.
Obesity and the Receipt of Prescription Pain Medications in the US
Sociodemographic and Behavioral Factors Associated With COVID-19 Stigmatizing Attitudes in the U.S.Grivel, M. M., Lieff, S. A., Meltzer, G. Y., Chang, V. W., Yang, L. H., & Jarlais, D. C. (n.d.).
Journal titleStigma and Health
Page(s)371-379AbstractTo control the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and prevent further verbal and physical discrimination against individuals affected by, or perceived to be responsible for, COVID-19, proactive efforts must be made to ameliorate stigmatizing attitudes. This study seeks to examine whether key sociobehavioral factors including news consumption and contact with Chinese individuals are associated with COVID-19 stigma as a first step to informing stigma interventions. Surveys were administered to N = 498non-representative national respondents in August 2020 via Amazon’s Mechanical Turk and includedassessments of COVID-19 stigma, worry, knowledge, contact with COVID-19 and Chinese individuals, and preferred news source. Prevalence of stigmatizing beliefs was 65.46%. Odds of endorsing stigma were higher among males (OR = 1.77, 95% CI [1.07–2.93]) vs. females, Non-Hispanic Black (OR = 3.12, 95% CI [1.42–6.86]) and Hispanic (OR = 4.77, 95% CI [2.32–9.78]) vs. Non-Hispanic White individuals, and individuals with college degrees (OR = 3.41, 95% CI [1.94–5.99]) and more than college degrees (OR = 3.04, 95% CI [1.34–6.89]) vs. those with less than college degrees. Consumers (vs. non-consumers) of Fox News (OR = 4.43, 95% CI [2.52–7.80]) and social media (OR = 2.48, 95% CI [1.46–4.20]) had higher odds of endorsing stigma. Contact with Chinese individuals (OR = 0.50, 95% CI [0.25–1.00]) wasassociated with lower odds of endorsing stigma. These findings suggest that individuals of Non-HispanicBlack or Hispanic race/ethnic background, consumers of Fox News and social media, men, and individuals with college degrees or higher are groups that should be prioritized for anti-stigma intervention. Our finding that social contact with Chinese individuals is associated with decreased odds of stigma that provides initial support for the implementation of interventions based on contact with individuals of Chinese descent
24-Year trends in educational inequalities in adult smoking prevalence in the context of a national tobacco control program: The case of BrazilBandi, P., Chang, V. W., Sherman, S. E., & Silver, D. (n.d.).
Journal titlePreventive Medicine
Volume131AbstractBrazil was a low and middle-income country (LMIC) in the late-1980s when it implemented a robust national tobacco-control program (NTCP) amidst rapid gains in national incomes and gender equality. We assessed changes in smoking prevalence between 1989 and 2013 by education level and related these changes to trends in educational inequalities in smoking. Data were from four nationally representative cross-sectional surveys (1989, n = 25,298; 2003 n = 3845; 2008 n = 28,938; 2013 n = 47,440, ages 25–69 years). We estimated absolute (slope index of inequality, SII) and relative (relative index of inequality, RII) educational inequalities in smoking prevalence, separately for males and females. Additional analyses stratified by birth-cohort to assess generational differences. Smoking declined significantly between 1989 and 2013 in all education groups but declines among females were steeper in higher-educated groups. Consequently, both absolute and relative educational inequalities in female smoking widened threefold between 1989 and 2013 (RII: 1.31 to 3.60, SII: 5.3 to 15.0), but absolute inequalities in female smoking widened mainly until 2003 (SII: 15.8). Conversely, among males, declines were steeper in higher-educated groups only in relative terms. Thus, relative educational inequalities in male smoking widened between 1989 and 2013 (RII: 1.58 to 3.19) but mainly until 2008 (3.22), whereas absolute equalities in male smoking were unchanged over the 24-year period (1989: 21.1 vs. 2013: 23.2). Younger-cohorts (born ≥1965) had wider relative inequalities in smoking vs. older-cohorts at comparable ages, particularly in the youngest female-cohorts (born 1979–1988). Our results suggest that younger lower-SES groups, especially females, may be particularly vulnerable to differentially higher smoking uptake in LMICs that implement population tobacco-control efforts amidst rapid societal gains.
The Economic Value of Education for Longer Lives and Reduced Disability
Health, Polysubstance Use, and Criminal Justice Involvement Among Adults With Varying Levels of Opioid Use
Medicaid Expansion, Mental Health, and Access to Care among Childless Adults with and without Chronic Conditions
Overweight or obese BMI is associated with earlier, but not later survival after common acute illnessesPrescott, H. C., & Chang, V. W. (n.d.).
Journal titleBMC Geriatrics
Issue1AbstractBackground: Obesity has been associated with improved short-term mortality following common acute illness, but its relationship with longer-term mortality is unknown. Methods: Observational study of U.S. Health and Retirement Study (HRS) participants with federal health insurance (fee-for-service Medicare) coverage, hospitalized with congestive heart failure (N = 4287), pneumonia (N = 4182), or acute myocardial infarction (N = 2001), 1996-2012. Using cox proportional hazards models, we examined the association between overweight or obese BMI (BMI ≥ 25.0 kg/m2) and mortality to 5 years after hospital admission, adjusted for potential confounders measured at the same time as BMI, including age, race, sex, education, partnership status, income, wealth, and smoking status. Body mass index (BMI) was calculated from self-reported height and weight collected at the HRS survey prior to hospitalization (a median 1.1 year prior to hospitalization). The referent group was patients with a normal BMI (18.5 to < 25.0 kg/m2). Results: Patients were a median of 79 years old (IQR 71-85 years). The majority of patients were overweight or obese: 60.3% hospitalized for heart failure, 51.5% for pneumonia, and 61.6% for acute myocardial infarction. Overweight or obese BMI was associated with lower mortality at 1 year after hospitalization for congestive heart failure, pneumonia, and acute myocardial infarction - with adjusted hazard ratios of 0.68 (95% CI 0.59-0.79), 0.74 (95% CI: 0.64-0.84), and 0.65 (95%CI: 0.53-0.80), respectively. Among participants who lived to one year, however, subsequent survival was similar between patients with normal versus overweight/obese BMI. Conclusions: In older Americans, overweight or obese BMI was associated with improved survival following hospitalization for congestive heart failure, pneumonia, and acute myocardial infarction. This association, however, is limited to the shorter-term. Conditional on surviving to one year, we did not observe a survival advantage associated with excess weight.
Ultra-processed food consumption and excess weight among US adultsJuul, F., Martinez-Steele, E., Parekh, N., Monteiro, C. A., & Chang, V. W. (n.d.).
Journal titleThe British journal of nutrition
Page(s)90-100AbstractUltra-processed foods provide 58 % of energy intake and 89 % of added sugars in the American diet. Nevertheless, the association between ultra-processed foods and excess weight has not been investigated in a US sample. The present investigation therefore aims to examine the association between ultra-processed foods and excess weight in a nationally representative sample of US adults. We performed a cross-sectional analysis of anthropometric and dietary data from 15 977 adults (20-64 years) participating in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2005-2014. Dietary data were collected by 24-h recall. Height, weight and waist circumference (WC) were measured. Foods were classified as ultra-processed/non-ultra-processed according to the NOVA classification. Multivariable linear and logistic regression was used to evaluate the association between ultra-processed food consumption (% energy) and BMI, WC and odds of BMI≥25 kg/m2, BMI≥30 kg/m2 and abdominal obesity (men: WC≥102 cm, women: WC≥88 cm). Prevalence of BMI≥25 kg/m2, BMI≥30 kg/m2 and abdominal obesity was 69·2, 36·1 and 53·0 %, respectively. Consuming ≥74·2 v. ≤36·5 % of total energy from ultra-processed foods was associated with 1·61 units higher BMI (95 % CI 1·11, 2·10), 4·07 cm greater WC (95 % CI 2·94, 5·19) and 48, 53 and 62 % higher odds of BMI≥25 kg/m2, BMI≥30 kg/m2 and abdominal obesity, respectively (OR 1·48; 95 % CI 1·25, 1·76; OR 1·53; 95 % CI 1·29, 1·81; OR 1·62; 95 % CI 1·39, 1·89, respectively; P for trend<0·001 for all). A significant interaction between being female and ultra-processed food consumption was found for BMI (F 4,79=4·89, P=0·002), WC (F 4,79=3·71, P=0·008) and BMI≥25 kg/m2 (F 4,79=5·35, P<0·001). As the first study in a US population, our findings support that higher consumption of ultra-processed food is associated with excess weight, and that the association is more pronounced among women.
Birth weight, early life weight gain and age at menarche: a systematic review of longitudinal studiesJuul, F., Chang, V. W., Brar, P., & Parekh, N. (n.d.).
Journal titleObesity Reviews
Page(s)1272-1288AbstractBackground and objective: Adiposity in pre- and postnatal life may influence menarcheal age. Existing evidence is primarily cross-sectional, failing to address temporality, for which the role of adiposity in early life remains unclear. The current study sought to systematically review longitudinal studies evaluating the associations between birth weight and infant/childhood weight status/weight gain in relation to menarcheal age. Methods: PubMed, EMBASE, Web of Science, Global Health (Ovid) and CINAHL were systematically searched. Selected studies were limited to English-language articles presenting multi-variable analyses. Seventeen studies reporting risk estimates for birth weight (n = 3), infant/childhood weight gain/weight status (n = 4) or both (n = 10), in relation to menarcheal age were included. Results: Lower vs. higher birth weight was associated with earlier menarche in nine studies and later menarche in one study, while three studies reported a null association. Greater BMI or weight gain over time and greater childhood weight were significantly associated with earlier menarche in nine of nine and six of seven studies, respectively. Conclusions: Studies suggested that lower birth weight and higher body weight and weight gain in infancy and childhood may increase the risk of early menarche. The pre- and postnatal period may thus be an opportune time for weight control interventions to prevent early menarche, and its subsequent consequences.
The obesity paradox and incident cardiovascular disease: A population-based study
Trends in the Relationship between Obesity and Disability, 1988-2012
Mortality attributable to low levels of education in the United States
Obesity and 1-year outcomes in older Americans with severe sepsisPrescott, H. C., Chang, V. W., O’Brien, J. M., Langa, K. M., & Iwashyna, T. J. (n.d.).
Journal titleCritical care medicine
Page(s)1766-1774AbstractObjectives: Although critical care physicians view obesity as an independent poor prognostic marker, growing evidence suggests that obesity is, instead, associated with improved mortality following ICU admission. However, this prior empirical work may be biased by preferential admission of obese patients to ICUs, and little is known about other patient-centered outcomes following critical illness. We sought to determine whether 1-year mortality, healthcare utilization, and functional outcomes following a severe sepsis hospitalization differ by body mass index. Design: Observational cohort study. Setting: U.S. hospitals. Patients: We analyzed 1,404 severe sepsis hospitalizations (1999-2005) among Medicare beneficiaries enrolled in the nationally representative Health and Retirement Study, of which 597 (42.5%) were normal weight, 473 (33.7%) were overweight, and 334 (23.8%) were obese or severely obese, as assessed at their survey prior to acute illness. Underweight patients were excluded a priori. Interventions: None. Measurements and main results: Using Medicare claims, we identified severe sepsis hospitalizations and measured inpatient healthcare facility use and calculated total and itemized Medicare spending in the year following hospital discharge. Using the National Death Index, we determined mortality. We ascertained pre-and postmorbid functional status from survey data. Patients with greater body mass indexes experienced lower 1-year mortality compared with nonobese patients, and there was a dose-response relationship such that obese (odds ratio = 0.59; 95% CI, 0.39-0.88) and severely obese patients (odds ratio = 0.46; 95% CI, 0.26-0.80) had the lowest mortality. Total days in a healthcare facility and Medicare expenditures were greater for obese patients (p < 0.01 for both comparisons), but average daily utilization (p = 0.44) and Medicare spending were similar (p = 0.65) among normal, overweight, and obese survivors. Total function limitations following severe sepsis did not differ by body mass index category (p = 0.64). Conclusions: Obesity is associated with improved mortality among severe sepsis patients. Due to longer survival, obese sepsis survivors use more healthcare and result in higher Medicare spending in the year following hospitalization. Median daily healthcare utilization was similar across body mass index categories.
Early life exposure to the 1918 influenza pandemic and old-age mortality by cause of death
Obesity and MortalityMehta, N. K., & Chang, V. W. (n.d.). In The Oxford Handbook of the Social Science of Obesity.
Publication year2012AbstractThis chapter reports that the mortality penalty linked with obesity has been falling in recent decades. It describes how, in current data, the relationship between obesity and mortality is complex; although class II and III obesity are associated with elevated mortality risk, overweight and class I obesity are generally not associated with higher mortality. Studies that measure body mass index (BMI) when respondents are middle aged and model mortality into later life can give a better sense of the BMI and mortality relationship at the older ages. A high BMI is a small source of excess deaths in the United States, although this topic continues to be controversial. Studies that measure BMI in middle age and model subsequent mortality may give a better sense of the effect of BMI on mortality for those over the age of 50.
Gender equality, development, and cross-national sex gaps in life expectancyMedalia, C., & Chang, V. W. (n.d.).
Journal titleInternational Journal of Comparative Sociology
Page(s)371-389AbstractFemale life expectancy exceeds male life expectancy in almost every country throughout the world. Nevertheless, cross-national variation in the sex gap suggests that social factors, such as gender equality, may directly affect or mediate an underlying biological component. In this article, we examine the association between gender equality and the sex gap in mortality. Previous research has not addressed this question from an international perspective with countries at different levels of development. We examine 131 countries using a broad measure of national gender equality that is applicable in both Less Developed Countries (LDCs) and Highly Developed Countries (HDCs). We find that the influence of gender equality is conditional on level of development. While gender equality is associated with divergence between female and male life expectancies in LDCs, it is associated with convergence in HDCs. The relationship between gender equality and the sex gap in mortality in HDCs strongly relates to, but is not explained by, sex differences in lung cancer mortality. Finally, we find that divergence in LDCs is primarily driven by a strong positive association between gender equality and female life expectancy. In HDCs, convergence is potentially related to a weak negative association between gender equality and female life expectancy, though findings are not statistically significant.
Race/ethnic differences in adult mortality: The role of perceived stress and health behaviorsKrueger, P. M., Saint Onge, J. M., & Chang, V. W. (n.d.).
Journal titleSocial Science and Medicine
Page(s)1312-1322AbstractWe examine the role of perceived stress and health behaviors (i.e., cigarette smoking, alcohol consumption, physical inactivity, sleep duration) in shaping differential mortality among whites, blacks, and Hispanics. We use data from the 1990 National Health Interview Survey (N = 38,891), a nationally representative sample of United States adults, to model prospective mortality through 2006. Our first aim examines whether unhealthy behaviors and perceived stress mediate race/ethnic disparities in mortality. The black disadvantage in mortality, relative to whites, closes after adjusting for socioeconomic status (SES), but re-emerges after adjusting for the lower smoking levels among blacks. After adjusting for SES, Hispanics have slightly lower mortality than whites; that advantage increases after adjusting for the greater physical inactivity among Hispanics, but closes after adjusting for their lower smoking levels. Perceived stress, sleep duration, and alcohol consumption do not mediate race/ethnic disparities in mortality. Our second aim tests competing hypotheses about race/ethnic differences in the relationships among unhealthy behaviors, perceived stress, and mortality. The social vulnerability hypothesis predicts that unhealthy behaviors and high stress levels will be more harmful for race/ethnic minorities. In contrast, the Blaxter (1990) hypothesis predicts that unhealthy lifestyles will be less harmful for disadvantaged groups. Consistent with the social vulnerability perspective, smoking is more harmful for blacks than for whites. But consistent with the Blaxter hypothesis, compared to whites, current smoking has a weaker relationship with mortality for Hispanics, and low or high levels of alcohol consumption, high levels of physical inactivity, and short or long sleep hours have weaker relationships with mortality for blacks.
Secular declines in the association between obesity and mortality in the United StatesMehta, N. K., & Chang, V. W. (n.d.).
Journal titlePopulation and Development Review
Page(s)435-451AbstractRecent research suggests that rising obesity will restrain future gains in US life expectancy and that obesity is an important contributor to the current shortfall in us longevity compared to other high-income countries. Estimates of the contribution of obesity to current and future national-level mortality patterns are sensitive to estimates of the magnitude of the association between obesity and mortality at the individual level. We assessed secular trends in the obesity/mortality association among cohorts of middle-aged adults between 1948 and 2006 using three long-running US data sources: the Framingham Heart Study, the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, and the National Health Interview Survey. We find substantial declines over time in the magnitude of the association between obesity and overall mortality and, in certain instances, cardiovascular-specific mortality. We conclude that estimates of the contribution of obesity to current national-level mortality patterns should take into account recent reductions in the magnitude of the obesity and mortality association.
Metabolic syndrome and weight gain in adulthoodAlley, D. E., & Chang, V. W. (n.d.).
Journal titleJournals of Gerontology - Series A Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences
Page(s)111-117AbstractBackgroundThe influence of long-term adult weight history on metabolic risk independent of attained body mass index (BMI) is unknown.MethodsUsing nationally representative data on adults aged 50-64 years from the 1999-2006 National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys, we examined weight change for two periods of adulthood: prime age (age 25-10 years ago) and midlife (the last 10 years). Weight changes in each period were categorized as stable (gain <10 kg) or gain (gain ≥10 kg) to create weight history comparison groups: stable-stable, gain-stable (prime age gain), stable-gain (midlife gain), and gain-gain (continuous gain). Persons who lost weight were excluded. Logistic regression predicted odds of metabolic syndrome and its subcomponents based on weight history, adjusting for current BMI and covariates.ResultsParticipants in the gain-stable group had 89% elevated odds of metabolic syndrome (odds ratio = 1.89, 95% CI: 1.19-3.01) relative to the stable-stable group, even after adjustment for current BMI. All weight gain groups had increased odds of low HDL and high triglycerides relative to participants with continuously stable weights. No significant associations were found between weight history and hypertension or high glucose.ConclusionsWeight history confers information about metabolic risk factors above and beyond attained weight status. In particular, adult weight gain is related to risk of low HDL and high triglycerides. Weight history may contribute to our understanding of why some obese older persons are metabolically healthy but others are not.