Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Maureen Groer


African American, Obesity, Socioeconomic Status, Vitamin D


OBJECTIVE: To examine the relationships between socioeconomic status (SES), body mass index (BMI), and vitamin D levels in African American (AA) women living in areas with abundant sunshine; and to explore if diabetes moderates these relationships.

SIGNIFICANCE: More AA's live in poverty, and experience obesity, diabetes, and chronic disease compared to other groups. Eighty percent of AA women are overweight or obese, and rates of type 2 diabetes is highest in this group. Minority race, obesity, and diabetes increase risks for low vitamin D, and are associated with p

DESIGN AND METHOD: A cross-sectional descriptive research design was used to examine the specified relationships. Data from 611 non-pregnant AA women ≥ age 20 from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) cycles 2003 - 2006 were studied. SES was measured as poverty to income ratio (PIR), education level, and annual household income. Mean ± SD for BMI was 31 ± 8, and 14ng/ml ± 7ng/ml for vitamin D level. Only 8% of the sample had diabetes (n = 49). One hundred-eighty lived in areas with abundant sunshine.

RESULTS: BMI independently predicted the vitamin D level without regard for SES, or geographical locale. Vitamin D supplement use emerged as an independent predictor of vitamin D on covariate analysis. SES did not explain significant variation in the vitamin D level. A moderating influence of diabetes could not be determined.

CONCLUSIONS: BMI inversely predicts vitamin D level independent of geographic locale in AA women. Ethno/cultural measures to reduce BMI should be standard in caring for AA women which may affect vitamin D level and/or reduce morbidity and mortality in this group. Persons with low vitamin D suffer with more adverse health outcomes, and future research should examine if vitamin D deficiency accelerates risks for poor health outcomes where BMI is high.