Socioeconomic Gradients in Overweight/Obesity in Young Immigrants: Exploring the Roles of Parental Status and Inter-Generational Social Mobility

Sandra S. Albrecht, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Penny Gordon-Larsen, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Low socioeconomic status (SES) and obesity are correlated among children and adults in the U.S. Early life SES also predicts weight in adulthood. U.S. immigrants appear to be an exception as SES gradients in weight tend to be weak, and childhood SES is not as strong a predictor of adult weight as it is among the U.S.-born. However it is unclear if a gradient emerges in adolescent immigrants as they age into adulthood, particularly after accounting for their own SES as adults. Using prospective data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, we examine associations between overweight/obesity, parental education measured in adolescence, and respondents’ own educational attainment measured in adulthood. We also investigate whether these associations remain different in first generation immigrants compared to second and third generation immigrants. Understanding how SES is patterned among U.S. immigrants over the long-term can facilitate intervention efforts to maintain their health advantage.

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Presented in Session 38: Changing Economic Conditions: Effects on Health