Date of Award


Document Type


First Advisor

Elizabeth Brondolo

Second Advisor

Allison Jaeger


The aim of this study is to test the hypothesis that both recent and lifetime racial discrimination along with discrimination subscales (social exclusion, work discrimination, stigmatization, and threat or physical harassment) is linked to unhealthy food consumption and health habits. Discrimination has been identified as a possible risk factor for unhealthy food consumption. Research has not yet clearly concluded if unhealthy consumption is a function of recent or chronic exposure to discrimination, the specific type of discrimination or if the effects of discrimination are independent of other life stressors such as neighborhood poverty and stress. Participants (n = 142) were recruited from a hospital serving a low-income and ethnically diverse neighborhood. Results showed that the effects of past week discrimination had a positive association to healthy and unhealthy food consumption. In contrast, lifetime discrimination was positively associated with unhealthy but not healthy food consumption. Only threat or physical harassment revealed a position association to healthy consumption. The results for past week discrimination remained significant even when controlling for demographic, socioeconomic and life stress variables. Our results indicated that there was no association between lifetime or recent discrimination with BMI levels indicating no association to obesity. The data suggest that perceived racial discrimination, independent of other stressors, is associated with unhealthy food consumption, but the effects are not consistent across all types of discrimination.

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