Factors Associated with BMI, Weight Perceptions and Trying to Lose Weight in African-American Smokers

The high proportion of African Americans who are overweight and obese is well known, placing them at a high risk for numerous health problems, including cancer, cardiovascular diseases and diabetes. Little is known, however, about the relationship of behavioral and psychosocial factors to an individual's perception of being overweight and efforts to lose weight among African Americans who smoke cigarettes. For the purposes of this study, behavioral and psychosocial factors included poor dietary habits, physical inactivity, stress and depression. Data were drawn from a randomized trial of 600 African-American smokers recruited at a community health center over a 16-month period.

The key findings were:

  • Poorer general health, female gender and high school education were more significantly associated with higher body mass index (BMI).
  • Being female and having a higher BMI was associated with the perception of being overweight and smoking more cigarettes per day.
  • Participants somewhat overestimated their BMI in weight perceptions. Perceiving oneself as overweight was associated with trying to lose weight.