Obesity in Adolescence Predicts Lower Educational Attainment and Income in Adulthood: The Project EAT Longitudinal Study

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Abstract

Objective: Prospective associations between obesity in adolescence and adult socioeconomic outcomes, and potential mediators, were examined in a contemporary cohort. Methods: Longitudinal data collected in 1998 to 1999 (Project EAT-I) and 2015 to 2016 (EAT-IV) were analyzed for 1,796 participants who provided data at both time points. Adolescents (mean age = 14.8 years) self-reported demographic and psychosocial variables (EAT-I) and follow-up outcomes (EAT-IV). Body weight and height were directly measured. Bachelor's degree or more education, income ≥ US $50,000, and partnered status at follow-up were examined by baseline obesity (>95th BMI percentile) using logistic regression. Self-esteem, depression, and weight-related teasing were examined as mediators using multivariate probit regressions. All analyses were adjusted for race, baseline age, and parent socioeconomic status. Results: Girls with obesity were significantly less likely to have achieved a bachelor’s degree (OR 0.32, 95% CI [0.18, 0.58]; P < 0.001), earn ≥ $50,000 annually (OR 0.57, 95% CI [0.33, 0.99]; P < 0.04), or be partnered (OR 0.45, 95% CI [0.27, 0.75]; P < 0.002) in adulthood. No associations were observed among boys. Among girls, depression mediated 8.5% and 23.6% of the association between adolescent obesity and adult education and income, respectively. Conclusions: Adolescent girls with obesity have lower educational attainment and income and are less likely to be partnered in later adulthood. Depression may partly mediate the associations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1467-1473
Number of pages7
JournalObesity
Volume26
Issue number9
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding This study was supported by grant number R01HL116892 (PI: Dianne Neumark-Sztainer) from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute or the National Institutes of Health.

Funding Information:
Funding agencies: This study was supported by grant number R01HL116892 (PI: Dianne Neumark-Sztainer) from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute or the National Institutes of Health. Disclosure: The authors declared no conflict of interest. Author contributions: SAF conceived of the manuscript idea, wrote the paper, and collaborated on the statistical analysis; MW and TC conducted the statistical analysis and contributed to the manuscript writing; NES and JMB contributed to the writing and critical review of the manuscript drafts; DNS led the original cohort study and contributed to the manuscript writing. Additional Supporting Information may be found in the online version of this article. Received: 3 April 2018; Accepted: 7 July 2018; Published online 18 September 2018. doi:10.1002/oby.22273

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 The Obesity Society

Keywords

  • academic attainment
  • income
  • obesity
  • partnered status

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