Trends in the Association of Obesity and Self-Reported Overall Health in 30 Years of the Integrated Health Interview Series

Macmillan, Ross; Duke, Naomi; Oakes, J. Michael; Liao, Wenjie
May 2011
Obesity (19307381);May2011, Vol. 19 Issue 5, p1103
Academic Journal
This research examines trends in the relationship between obesity based on self-report height and weight and self-perceived health over a 30-year period. Importantly, this period included the articulation of comprehensive public health campaigns on excess weight and thus provides opportunities for assessment of the efficacy of the campaign, as well as the broader psycho-social impact of excess weight. Using novel data from the Integrated Health Interview Series, odds ratios for the association between obesity and self-perceived health were estimated for repeated cross-sectional samples that are nationally representative of noninstitutionalized American adults aged 18-85 and older spanning 1976-2006. Our findings show that (i) there are weak associations between obesity and self-perceived poor health; (ii) these associations are particularly small among men, often to the point of being nonexistent; and (iii) weak relationships for both men and women have remained virtually unchanged over the past 30 years. Several reasons why the public health campaign around excess weight has had limited traction are discussed including the collective problem of excess weight in America and how this undermines current approaches in public health efforts addressing excess weight.


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