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Race and region have independent and synergistic effects on dietary intakes in black and white women

P K Newby1234*, Sabrina E Noel1, Rachael Grant1, Suzanne Judd5, James M Shikany6 and Jamy Ard7

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Pediatrics, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA 02118, USA

2 Department of Epidemiology, Boston University School of Public Health, Boston, MA 02118, USA

3 Program in Graduate Medical Nutrition Sciences, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA 02118 USA

4 Program in Gastronomy, Culinary Arts, and Wine Studies, Boston University Metropolitan College, Boston, MA 02215, USA

5 Department of Biostatistics, School of Public Health, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL 35294-0022, USA

6 Division of Preventive Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL 35205, USA

7 Department of Nutritional Sciences, School of Medicine, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL 35294-3412, USA

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Nutrition Journal 2012, 11:25  doi:10.1186/1475-2891-11-25

Published: 13 April 2012



Few studies have examined the effects of race and region on dietary intakes and the evidence on racial and regional disparities among women is limited. We aimed to examine whether race and region were associated with nutrient intakes among black and white women living in the Stroke Belt, Stroke Buckle, and Other regions in the United States. We hypothesized that significant differences would be observed among population sub-groups and that the effects of race on dietary intakes would vary across regions.


This study included dietary data from 12,105 women from the Reasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke study (United States). Dietary data were collected using the Block 98 food frequency questionnaire.


Blacks consumed 1.05% lower energy from saturated fat (95% CI: -0.95, -1.16), and intakes were also lower in the Buckle (β = -0.20; 95% CI: -0.08, -0.32) and Belt (β = -0.35; 95% CI: -0.24, -0.46) compared to the Other regions. Within each region, sodium, potassium, and magnesium intakes were all lower among black women compared to white women (P <0.05 for all); intakes were significantly lower among blacks living in the Belt and Buckle compared to those in the Other regions. Significant interactions between race and region were detected for trans fat, calcium, and cholesterol (P <0.05 for all), where black women in the Other regions consumed the lowest dietary cholesterol and calcium while black women in the Belt consumed the lowest trans fat.


Race and region were significantly associated with nutrient intakes in a large study of black and non-Hispanic white women in the United States. Intakes of trans fat, calcium, and cholesterol among black and white women differed across regions. Race and region thus interact to impact dietary intakes, and their effects may be mediated by such factors as the broader food environment and food availability as well as food customs and culture. Race, region, and their correlates should therefore be considered together when examining diet and disease associations and planning dietary advice for population sub-groups.

Diet; Health disparities; Nutrients; Blacks; Race; Region