Race effects of perceived weight status and its relationship with unmet health care need


Rutland, Sarah Briana (2017). Race effects of perceived weight status and its relationship with unmet health care need. Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association. Montréal, QC: American Sociological Association.


This study (n=9,630) evaluates the influence of race on the relationship between perceived weight status (PWS) and obtaining health care when a respondent thought care was needed (unmet need) among young adults (age 24-34) using Wave IV of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health. Using the framework of fundamental cause, I focus on race, and specifically racism, as a resource that contributes to fundamental cause of disease because of established disparities in health care between blacks and whites. Racial disparities in unmet need for care are likely due to both unequal distributions of resources across racial groups and concerns of stigma leading to avoidance of care. I use nested models to examine the extent that PWS and socioeconomic factors explain racial disparities in unmet need for care between blacks and whites, controlling for actual health. Initial models indicate a greater likelihood of having unmet need for care among blacks compared to whites and among those who perceive themselves as very overweight compared to slightly overweight or normal weight. However, PWS failed to explain the racial disparity in unmet need for care, even though blacks have higher levels of obesity. In the final model with full controls of health and access measures and socioeconomic status, the association of race became non-significant, suggesting that the differences between blacks and whites for unmet need in this sample may be a question of health care access and greater need rather than health care avoidance.



Reference Type

Conference proceeding

Book Title

Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association

Series Title

Section on Medical Sociology Refereed Roundtable Session


Rutland, Sarah Briana

Series Author(s)

Reczek, Corinne Zhang Zhe

Year Published



American Sociological Association

City of Publication

Montréal, QC

Reference ID