The Effect of Maternal and Own Education on BMI Trajectories from Adolescence to Adulthood

Elizabeth H. Baker, University of Alabama at Birmingham

This study examines the effect of own and maternal education on body mass index (BMI) trajectories by gender during the transition to adulthood using a life course perspective. Using the National Longitudinal Study of Youth, 1997 to 2010 cohort and growth curve models, I find that parent’s education is associated with lower adolescent BMI and slower growth in BMI during the transition to adulthood for both men and women. However, this slower growth in BMI is accounted for by own education and lower and delayed fertility and partnering. Own education is associated with slower growth in BMI, but only among women. I situate these findings using a life course perspective on health and theories concerning the educational gradient in health.

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Presented in Session 54: Social Determinants of Adult Obesity in the U.S.