Discrimination and obesity among Native Hawaiians.

Laurie D. McCubbin, Mapuana Antonio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Among ethnic populations in Hawai'i, Native Hawaiians continue to be over-represented with the highest rates in: morbidity and mortality, chronic health conditions, and the health risks of being overweight and obese. Focused on these two health risks, the investigation reported in this article has a specific aim of empirically determining whether social stigma as manifested in the form of perceived overt or covert discrimination is a contributing factor. Current studies focused on select ethnic populations, particularly African Americans point to discrimination as an important but understudied predictor of adverse health outcomes. Acknowledging the paucity of research on discrimination and its role in the health of Native Hawaiians, this investigation utilizes data from the 2007 Hawaiian Health Survey which was coordinated by the Department of Health, and the Office of Health Status Monitoring and implemented by SMS Hawai'i. The weighted sample of Hawai'i adults included measures of race/ethnicity and of everyday discrimination and the BMI (Body Mass Index). Logistic regression analyses were applied to determine if: (a) discrimination was significantly related to being overweight and/or obesity; and (b) whether this relationship remained a salient predictor after key demographic factors of gender, age, education, income, and length of time in the Islands were taken into account. This study confirmed the negative influence of overt discrimination as well as the protective nature of covert discrimination in explaining the variability in obesity/overweight in Native Hawaiians. The implications of this study for strategic interventions and research are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)346-352
Number of pages7
JournalHawai'i journal of medicine & public health : a journal of Asia Pacific Medicine & Public Health
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (all)


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