Obesity is increasing in the US population and seems to be disproportionately burdening disadvantaged groups. Veterans using the Veterans Healthcare System (VHS) tend to be more disadvantaged socioeconomically than the general population and in poorer health. It is important to understand how the veteran population differs from or is similar to the general population and whether the VHS is able to mediate obesity risk among veterans. This research assesses the sociodemographic, behavioral, and health risk factors for obesity in the US adult and veteran populations in 2008. We use data from the 2008 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) to empirically assess predictors of obesity risk. We find that women have lower odds of obesity than men once controls for sociodemographic, behavioral, and health conditions are included in our models. We also observe a veteran obesity disadvantage in the full adult sample when conducting bivariate tests, but no significant association with the odds of obesity in the logistic regression models among veterans and non-veterans. Gender specific models indicate that male veterans have increased odds of obesity compared to non-veterans, but no difference in obesity risks among veterans and non-veterans are noted for women, controlling for all variables. Further, we find no significant differences in the odds of obesity of veterans using VHS for all, some, or none of their health care needs; further no significant gender differences in obesity risk were observed among VHS usages and non-users. Based on the strong, positive association between the number of chronic health conditions and the odds of obesity, we suggest that health policy should focus efforts on weight management counseling for obese patients that have obesity related co-morbidities, and more targeted attention to male veterans would help to address the high level of obesity in this vulnerable population group.
Population Research and Policy Review – Springer Journals
Published: Jun 13, 2010
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