Grandparents’ Wealth and the Body Mass Index Trajectories of Grandchildren

Ying Huang , University of Texas at San Antonio

The association between childhood obesity and family socioeconomic status is well-established. However, little is known about how grandparental wealth—a measure of historical socioeconomic advantage—is associated with grandchildren’s initial body mass index (BMI) in early childhood and its subsequent growth patterns. In this study, I investigates the link between grandparents’ wealth ranking and grandchildren’s BMI growth trajectories from childhood to early adulthood using Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID) and the supplemental studies of Child Development Supplement (CDS) and Transition to Adulthood (TA). Using three-level growth curve models, I track the BMI trajectories of individuals from childhood to early adulthood. I find that lower grandparental wealth ranking is associated with higher initial BMI of their grandchildren, it is also associated with accelerated BMI growth trajectories. Results highlight the role of wealth as a historical socioeconomic (dis)advantage in accounting for the obesity disparities between white and black children in the current generation.

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 Presented in Session 5. Health & Mortality 1