Obesity in the Transition to Adulthood: Predictions across Race-Ethnicity, Immigrant Generation, and Sex

Kathleen Mullan Harris, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Krista Perreira, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Dohoon Lee, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Our paper fills a void in the research on obesity by using national longitudinal data from Add Health to study race, ethnic, and immigrant disparities in body mass index among young people aged 11-28, and to trace how disparities change as adolescents age into young adulthood. We use growth curve modeling to estimate the pattern of change in body mass index beginning in adolescence and extending through the transition to adulthood. Findings indicate significant differences in both the level and change in BMI across age by sex, race-ethnicity, and immigrant generation. In particular, females, second and third generations, and Hispanics and blacks experience more rapidly increasing BMI as adolescents age into young adulthood than males, first generation, and whites and Asians. Overall, disparities in both raw BMI and the percent overweight and obese tend to widen with age as adolescents leave home and begin independent lives as young adults.

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Presented in Session 88: Socioeconomic Determinants of Obesity