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Age, socioeconomic status and obesity growth

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  • Baum II, Charles L.
  • Ruhm, Christopher J.

Abstract

We use panel data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY) to examine how body weight changes with age for a cohort moving through early adulthood, to investigate how the age-obesity gradient differs with socioeconomic status (SES) and to study channels for these SES disparities. Our results show first that weight increases with age and is inversely related to SES during childhood. Second, the obesity gradient widens over the lifecycle, consistent with research on other health outcomes. Third, a substantial portion of the "effect" of early life conditions operates through race/ethnicity and the translation of advantaged family backgrounds during childhood into higher levels of subsequent education. By contrast, little of the SES gap appears to propagate through household composition, family income or health behaviors. Fourth, adult SES has independent effects after controlling for childhood status.

Suggested Citation

  • Baum II, Charles L. & Ruhm, Christopher J., 2009. "Age, socioeconomic status and obesity growth," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(3), pages 635-648, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jhecon:v:28:y:2009:i:3:p:635-648
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Obesity Body weight Age Socioeconomic status;

    JEL classification:

    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior

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