The determinants of racial disparities in obesity: Baseline evidence from a natural experiment

Thomas Durfee, Samuel L Myers, Julian Wolfson, Molly Demarco, Lisa Harnak, Caitlin E Caspi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


This article uses baseline data from an observational study to estimate the determinants of racial and gender disparities in obesity. Samples of low-income workers in Minneapolis and Raleigh reveal that respondents in Minneapolis have lower body mass indices (BMIs) than respondents in Raleigh. There are large, statistically significant race and gender effects in estimates of BMI that explain most of the disparity between the two cities. Accounting for intersectionality - the joint impacts of being Black and a woman - reveals that almost all the BMI gaps between Black women in Minneapolis and Raleigh can be explained by age and education differences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)533-558
Number of pages26
JournalAgricultural and Resource Economics Review
Issue number3
StatePublished - Dec 15 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases of the National Institutes of Health (1R01DK118664-01); NIH grant UL1TR002494 from the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) supported data management. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health. Funding agencies had no role in the design, analysis or writing of this article.

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s), 2021. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of the Northeastern Agricultural and Resource Economics Association.


  • body mass index (BMI)
  • food insecurity
  • minimum wage
  • racial disparity


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