Adolescent Obesity and Academic Attainment in Young Adulthood

Igor Ryabov , University of Texas Rio Grande Valley
Laryssa Mykyta, U.S. Census Bureau

Using nationally-representative data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (Add Health), this study examines the impact of adolescent obesity on young adult educational attainment. In this analysis, we estimate multilevel logistic models in order to specifically examine whether race/ethnicity, immigrant generation and peer networks mediate the effects of obesity on later attainment. Results suggest that individuals who were obese in adolescence are less likely to transition from high school to college, and even less likely to obtain a baccalaureate degree than their healthy-weight counterparts., even after controlling for other individual, family SES and school-level factors associated with attainment. Further, the effects of obesity were consistent throughout the analysis, indicating that adolescent obesity exerts an independent influence on young adult academic outcomes. In addition, having overweight and obese friends in adolescence also drives down the odds of educational success.

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 Presented in Session 49. Work and Education Outcomes in the Transition to Adulthood