The Effects of Timing and Duration of Adolescent and Early Adulthood Obesity on College Enrollment and Completion

Carolina Milesi, University of Chicago
Russell Bittmann, NORC at the University of Chicago

We estimate the effects of current obesity status as well as of obesity duration on the probabilities of entering college and completing a bachelor’s degree for U.S. youth. We conjecture that the relatively well-established effects of obesity at one point in time are just the tip of the iceberg and that they vastly underplay the real effects of obesity that are mostly driven by the timing of onset and duration of obesity thus implying cumulative effects. We discuss the implications of these results: given past growing rates of obesity prevalence and progressively earlier onset of obesity among the U.S. youth, the estimates we obtain have ominous consequences for future educational success of all U.S. youth and particularly for females and racial and ethnic minorities.

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Presented in Session 29: Education and the Life Course