Sex Differences in the Relation Between Social Stressors and Obesity

sfs2150_3_Shakira F Suglia_0Presenter: Shakira F. Suglia, ScD, MS

Associate Professor
Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health

Date: April 5th, 2016

Description: In this webinar, Dr. Suglia provides an overview of the physiological responses to stressors and their relationship to obesity.  Stressors have a significant impact on mental and physical health, with high levels of stress associated with eating disorders and obesity.  There is also a sociodemographic gradient within this relationship, meaning that individuals with low SES experience a greater number of social risk factors and suffer more frequently from obesity.  This disparity is also seen between genders, with girls and women experiencing more stress than their male counterparts.


Recommended pre-webinar reading: Suglia, SF, Clark CJ, Gary-Webb TL. (2013) Adolescent obesity, change in weight status, and hypertension: racial/ethnic variations. Hypertension 61(2) pp 290-295.

Reflection Questions: What are the challenges in defining social stressors across the life course? Why is it important to examine sex differences when examining the effect of social stressors? What are some potential mechanisms by which social stressors impact obesity?

Council on Linkages Core Competencies for Public Health Professionals (2014 Version)

1A1, 2A5, 4A3, 5A2, 8A4

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Public Health Live / T2B2: Confronting Health Disparities: Obesity and Prevention in African American Communities

Organization that developed training: University of Albany School of Public Health

Description: More than one-third of U.S. adults (over 72 million people) and 17% of U.S. children are obese; substantial differences exist in obesity prevalence by race/ethnicity, and these differences vary by sex and age. The prevalence of obesity among adults from 2007-2010 was largest among African American women compared with white and Mexican American women and men. Obesity prevalence among African American adults was the largest compared to other race ethnicity groups. Obesity increases the risk of many preventable health conditions, including heart disease, stroke and diabetes. African Americans live sicker and die younger than any other ethnic group in the nation. African Americans have the largest death rates from heart disease and stroke compared with other racial and ethnic populations.

This program focuses on the reality of African-American health disparity–why it exists and the impact of environment, income and other determinants of health on the incidence of diabetes, obesity and heart disease within African American communities, and what can be done about it.

Year Launched: 2015

Recommended for: Public Health Foundation-defined Tier 1 Public Health Professionals

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Health Equity Resource Toolkit for State Practitioners Addressing Obesity Disparities

Obesity has been on the rise in the United States over the past three decades, and is high. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) promotes evidence-based and practice-informed strategies to address nutrition and physical activity environments and behaviors. To provide health practitioners with a systematic approach to program planning using a health equity lens, CDC (2012) developed the Health Equity Resource Toolkit for State Practitioners Addressing Obesity Disparities.

The Toolkit’s primary focus is on how to create policy, systems, and environmental changes that will reduce obesity disparities and achieve health equity. The Toolkit provides evidence-informed and real-world examples of addressing disparities by illustrating how the concepts presented can be promoted in programs to achieve health equity using three evidence-informed strategies as examples.

Health Equity Resource Toolkit for State Practitioners Addressing Obesity Disparities