Race, Ethnicity and Gender Disparities in the Embedding and Accumulation of Childhood Poverty on Young Adult BMI

Daphne C. Hernandez, University of Houston
Emily Pressler, Pennsylvania State University

Using a life course perspective, we examined whether the embedding of childhood poverty or the accumulation of the exposure to childhood poverty contributes to the race, ethnic, and gender disparities in young adult body mass index. Data from the 1979 National Longitudinal Study of Youth were used to explore the relationship between the exposure to childhood poverty from prenatal year to age 18 and weight status in young adulthood (N = 3,517). Results indicate that the embedding of childhood poverty during early adolescence lowered the odds that white males would be overweight as young adults. In contrast, experiencing poverty during infancy placed black males at risk for being overweight as young adults. The weight status of young adult white, black and Hispanic females was negatively influenced by the accumulation of childhood poverty. Helping impoverished families out of poverty may improve the long-term health status of their children as young adults.

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Presented in Session 57: Production of Racial, Ethnic and Gender Disparities