Prevalence and impact of risk factors for lower body difficulty among Mexican Americans African Americans, and Whites

Daniel O. Clark, Simon M. Mungai, Timothy E. Stump, Fredric D. Wolinsky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

22 Scopus citations


Background. The purpose of the study was to estimate the prevalence of sociodemographic, health behavior, chronic disease, and impairment factors and their impact on difficulty in lower body function among two age-cohorts (51-61 and 71-81 years) of Mexican Americans, African Americans, and Whites. Methods. Reports from 8,727 and 4,510 self-respondents of the 1992 baseline Health and Retirement Survey and the 1993 baseline Assets and Health Dynamics Study, respectively, were used to estimate prevalence. Multiple linear regression of the 4-item lower body difficulty scale (alpha = .80) was used to estimate the direct effects of the risk factors within the age-cohort and ethnicity groups. Results. Overall, the risk factors are more prevalent among both minority groups and the older age-cohort. Lower body deficits are particularly high among Mexican Americans and the younger age-cohort of African Americans. The impact of risk factors does not vary much by ethnicity or age-cohort. Female gender, pain, arthritis, and heart and lung disease are the major risk factors, and they account for about one-third of the variance in lower body difficulty for each group. Conclusions. Efforts to prevent or reduce lower body difficulty should pay particular attention to pain, arthritis, and heart and lung disease. The central role of sociodemographic and behavioral factors in chronic disease argues for their continued inclusion in disability modeling and prevention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)M97-M105
JournalJournals of Gerontology - Series A Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 1 1997

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aging
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology

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