Childhood Disadvantage and Obesity: Is Nurture Trumping Nature?
Obesity has been one of the fastest growing health concerns among children, particularly among disadvantaged children. For children overall, obesity rates have tripled from 5% in the early 1970s to about 15% by the early 2000s. For disadvantaged children, obesity rates are closer to 20%. In this paper, we first examine the impact of various measures of disadvantage on children's weight outcomes over the past 30 years, finding that the disadvantaged have gained weight faster. Over the same period, adult obesity rates have grown, and we expect parental obesity to be closely tied to children's obesity, for reasons of both nature and nurture. Thus, examining changes in the parent-child correlation in BMI should give us some insight into the ways in which the environment that parents and children share has affected children's body mass, or into how the interaction of genes and environment has changed. We find that the elasticity between mothers' and children's BMI has increased since the 1970s, suggesting that shared genetic-environmental factors have become more important in determining obesity. Despite the faster weight gain for the disadvantaged, there appears to be no clear difference for by disadvantaged group in either the parent-child elasticity or in identifiable environmental factors. On average, the increases in parents' BMI between the early 1970s and the early 2000s can explain about 37 percent of the increase in children's BMI. Although common environmental/genetic factors play a larger role now than in earlier time periods, child specific environments such as schools and day care play a potentially important role in determining children's health status.
|Date of creation:||Oct 2007|
|Date of revision:|
|Publication status:||published as Childhood Disadvantage and Obesity: Is Nurture Trumping Nature? , Patricia M. Anderson, Kristin F. Butcher, Diane Whitemore Schanzenbach. in The Problems of Disadvantaged Youth: An Economic Perspective , Gruber. 2009|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.|
Web page: http://www.nber.org
More information through EDIRC
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Patricia M. Anderson & Kristin F. Butcher & Phillip B. Levine, 2002.
"Maternal Employment and Overweight Children,"
NBER Working Papers
8770, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Bruce Sacerdote, 2007. "How Large are the Effects from Changes in Family Environment? A Study of Korean American Adoptees," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 122(1), pages 119-157.
- Patricia M. Anderson & Kristin F. Butcher, 2006. "Reading, Writing, and Refreshments: Are School Finances Contributing to Children’s Obesity?," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 41(3).
- Darius Lakdawalla & Tomas Philipson, 2002.
"The Growth of Obesity and Technological Change: A Theoretical and Empirical Examination,"
0203, Harris School of Public Policy Studies, University of Chicago.
- Darius Lakdawalla & Tomas Philipson, 2002. "The Growth of Obesity and Technological Change: A Theoretical and Empirical Examination," NBER Working Papers 8946, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- David M. Cutler & Edward L. Glaeser & Jesse M. Shapiro, 2003.
"Why Have Americans Become More Obese?,"
Journal of Economic Perspectives,
American Economic Association, vol. 17(3), pages 93-118, Summer.
- David Cutler & Edward Glaeser & Jesse Shapiro, 2003. "Why Have Americans Become More Obese?," NBER Working Papers 9446, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Shapiro, Jesse & Glaeser, Edward & Cutler, David, 2003. "Why Have Americans Become More Obese," Scholarly Articles 2640583, Harvard University Department of Economics.
- David M. Cutler & Edward L. Glaeser & Jesse M. Shapiro, 2003. "Why Have Americans Become More Obese?," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1994, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
- Patricia M. Anderson & Kristin F. Butcher & Phillip B. Levine, 2003. "Economic perspectives on childhood obesity," Economic Perspectives, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, issue Q III, pages 30-48.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:13479. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ()
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.