Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Sociology and Anthropology

Committee Chair(s)

Eric N. Reither (Committee Chair), Hyojun Park (Committee Co-Chair)


Eric N. Reither


Hyojun Park


Sarah E. Schwartz


Guadalupe Marquez-Velarde


Sojung Lim


In comparison to Whites and other racial groups, the Black population in the U.S. has experienced one of the highest prevalences of obesity. Research into the role of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) has increased recently because the effects of ACEs often persist for a significant portion of a person’s lifetime. Furthermore, the reduction in sleep duration in recent decades has sparked worries about public health. This dissertation assesses Black-White disparities in the associations between (1) ACEs and BMI, and (2) short sleep durations and BMI from adolescence to adulthood. Public-use datasets from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health were used to estimate these associations. Study participants included 5,438 Black and White individuals. This study found that female respondents who reported more ACEs experienced higher BMI, on average, than females who did not report any ACE. Additionally, among females this effect was stronger among Blacks in some instances. ACEs were not associated with BMI trajectories among male respondents. Female and male respondents who reported short sleep durations experienced higher BMI, on average, than those who did not report short sleep durations. However, the association did not differ by race among either female or male respondents. The findings imply that ACEs influence Black-White gaps in BMI, especially among females, through pathways that begin early in the lifecourse. Interventions designed to support disadvantaged Black children and adolescents may help reduce large racial disparities in BMI.



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