Associations between social determinants of health, perceived discrimination, and body mass index on symptoms of depression among young African American mothers

Published:November 24, 2020DOI:


      • Initial Body Mass Index or BMI was significantly associated with initial (time 1) symptoms of depression
      • Initial perceived racism and discrimination were significantly associated with higher initial symptoms of depression.
      • Elevated BMI, perceived racism and discrimination were associated with greater symptoms of depression



      The association between symptoms of depression and risks for cardiovascular disease (CVD) remains equivocal for African American (AA) mothers. We examined the association between social determinants of health (perceived discrimination), and cardiovascular risk (BMI) on symptoms of depression in a sample of young AA mothers.


      Secondary data from 219 adult AA mothers between the ages of 21 and 46 with an average BMI of 29.8 and yearly family income of $14,999 were analyzed using a latent growth model that evaluated four time points to assess changes in symptoms of depression.


      Initial BMI was significantly associated with initial symptoms of depression (b = 0.12, p = .019). Perceived discrimination (unfair treatment) was associated with higher initial symptoms of depression (b = 1.14, p = .017).


      The findings suggest that elevated BMI and perceived discrimination are associated with higher reported symptoms of depression among young, socioeconomically disadvantaged AA mothers. These results advance the scientific understanding of young AA mothers' risk for symptoms of depression and CVD by elucidating the impact of perceived discrimination and social experiences on mental health. Further studies of SDoH and CVD risk factors and perceived racism and depression are needed to shed light on the long-term mental health impact on AA mothers and their children.


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