The Mediation Effect Between Everyday Discrimination, Gender Role Conflict, Emotional Eating, and Obesity in African American Fathers and Sons


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Abstract

African Americans were the only ethnic group from 1999 to 2016 to experience a trend increase in prevalence of overweight, Class 1 obesity, and Class 2 obesity among US males between the ages of 2 to 19 years old (Skinner, Ravanbakht, Skelton, Perrin, & Armstrong, 2018). Obesity in adolescence can lower the quality of life of African American men by causing earlier development of comorbidities and eventually earlier mortality. This study examined whether emotional eating mediated the relationship between everyday discrimination and gender role conflict on obesity and assessed the degree to which African American fathers and sons affect each other on these variables. This cross-sectional study consisted of 59 African American men (Mage = 45.22, SD = 8.26) who were paired with one of their sons (Mage = 17.12, SD = 1.40). Data about emotional eating, gender role conflict, and everyday discrimination from the fathers and sons were used in a multilevel dyadic mediation regression model to determine the predictors of weight status through body mass index (BMI). Fathers with higher reports of gender role conflict had sons with higher reports of gender role conflict, r = .40, p = .002. A son’s emotional eating fully mediated the relationship between everyday discrimination and BMI (β = 0.13, p = .002). In fathers, everyday discrimination and son’s gender role conflict had an indirect effect on the relationship between emotional eating and BMI. Thus, emotional eating may be a key mechanism for obesity intervention for African American adolescent boys and men.

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