Adolescent Obesity and First Union Outcomes in Young Adulthood: Does Dating Experience Tell the Story?

Yen-Hsin Alice Cheng, Academia Sinica

This study uses the NLSY97 data to explore the impact of adolescent overweight/obesity on the timing of forming a first union, both cohabitation and marriage. With a longitudinal sample of 5,385 adolescents age 12 to 18 at wave 1, the influence of body weight measured in wave 1 (1997) is analyzed along with time-varying annual dating and weight status history in discrete-time event history models. The findings show that dating activities only explain a small proportion of the negative association between being overweight/obese in wave 1 and the lower likelihood of experiencing a first cohabitation or marriage by young adulthood. For first marriage, the negative association became non-significant once the time-varying weight status measure is included. For cohabitation, an intriguing suppression effect is revealed with the inclusion of annual weight status in the model. A gendered pattern of weight effect on timing of first union is also observed.

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Presented in Session 150: Family Structure, Father Involvement and Childhood Obesity