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Teen overweight, weight stigma, and intimate relationship development from adolescence to young adulthood


  • Yen-hsin Alice Cheng

    (Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany)

  • Nancy S. Landale


With an emphasis on how weight stigma is manifested in social relationship context, this study explores two under-studied consequences of adolescent overweight, timing of first sex and subsequent intimate relationship development. The data employed come from Waves I to III of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. The results indicate that overweight adolescents have significantly later onset of first sex and are more likely to enter early adulthood without any intimate relationship experience when compared to normal-weight youth. Overweight adolescents are vulnerable to discriminatory treatments such as being rejected by or having less close relationships with peers and are thus less likely to have any intimate relationship. The study contributes to the existing literature on overweight youth by revealing the critical role of prejudiced social encounters in peer relationships as the key context that hinders the development of intimate relationships from adolescence to early adulthood. Future studies should seek to understand the broader implications of poor social adjustments during adolescence for later development.

Suggested Citation

  • Yen-hsin Alice Cheng & Nancy S. Landale, 2010. "Teen overweight, weight stigma, and intimate relationship development from adolescence to young adulthood," MPIDR Working Papers WP-2010-008, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:dem:wpaper:wp-2010-008

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. David Card & Thomas Lemieux, 2000. "Adapting to Circumstances (The Evolution of Work, School,and Living Arrangements among North American Youth)," NBER Chapters,in: Youth Employment and Joblessness in Advanced Countries, pages 171-214 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Francesco C. Billari & Dimiter Philipov & Pau Baizán Munoz, 2001. "Leaving home in Europe: the experience of cohorts born around 1960," MPIDR Working Papers WP-2001-014, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany.
    3. Whitfield, Keith & Wilson, R A, 1991. "Staying on in Full-Time Education: The Education Participation Rate of 16-Year-Olds," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 58(231), pages 391-404, August.
    4. Frances Goldscheider & Julie DaVanzo, 1989. "Pathways to Independent Living in Early Adulthood: Marriage, Semiautonomy, and Premarital Residential Independence," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 26(4), pages 597-614, November.
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    JEL classification:

    • J1 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics
    • Z0 - Other Special Topics - - General

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