Associations of Body Mass and Body Fat Distribution with Parity Among African‐American and Caucasian Women: The CARDIA Study

Academic Article


  • Associations of parity with body fat and its distribution are poorly understood; therefore, we examined the relationships between parity and obesity in young adult women. Body mass index (BMI), skin folds, and waist‐hip ratio were compared in 1452 African‐American and 1268 Caucasian nonpregnant women aged 18 to 30, adjusting for age (where no age‐parity interactions were present), education, physical activity (assessed by questionnaire) and fitness (assessed by graded exercise test), dietary fat intake, alcohol and smoking. Adjusted mean BMI was significantly higher in African‐American women aged 25–30 years with three or more children (28.5 kg/m2) than in those with two (27.0 kg/m2), one (26.2 kg/m2), or no children (26.3 kg/m2). Similar trends were found in Caucasians (BMI = 23.3, 23.4, 23.7, 25.0 kg/m2 for parity = 0,1, 2, ≥ 3, respectively), but the mean BMI was significantly higher in African Americans in each parity group. The association between BMI and parity was not present among women 18–24 years of age. Skinfolds were directly associated with parity in African Americans only. Waist‐hip ratios were generally lower among nulliparous than parous women in both ethnic groups; race differences were present only among nulliparas. In conclusion, parity was associated with BMI in women aged 25 to 30 years but did not explain ethnicity‐related differences in body mass. 1994 North American Association for the Study of Obesity (NAASO)
  • Published In

  • Obesity Research  Journal
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Lewis CE; Smith DE; Caveny JL; Perkins LL; Burke GL; Bild DE
  • Start Page

  • 517
  • End Page

  • 525
  • Volume

  • 2
  • Issue

  • 6