NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Age, Socioeconomic Status and Obesity Growth

Charles L. Baum II, Christopher J. Ruhm

NBER Working Paper No. 13289
Issued in August 2007
NBER Program(s):   AG   HC   HE

The rapid growth in obesity represents a major public concern. Although body weight tends to increase with age, the evolution of obesity over the lifecycle is not well understood. We use longitudinal data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth to examine how body weight changes with age for a cohort moving through early adulthood. We further investigate how the age-obesity gradient differs with socioeconomic status (SES) and begin to examine channels for these SES disparities. Our analysis uncovers three main findings. First, weight rises with age but is inversely related to SES at given ages. Second, the SES-obesity gradient widens over the lifecycle, a result consistent with research examining other health outcomes such as overall status or specific medical conditions. Third, a substantial portion of the SES "effect" is transmitted through race/ethnicity and the translation of advantaged family backgrounds during childhood into high levels of subsequent education. Conversely, little of the SES difference appears to be propagated through family income, marital status, number of children, or the set of health behaviors we control for. However, approximately half of the SES-weight correlation persists after the inclusion of controls, illustrating the need for further study of mechanisms for the gradient.

download in pdf format
   (218 K)

email paper

The NBER Bulletin on Aging and Health provides summaries of publications like this.  You can sign up to receive the NBER Bulletin on Aging and Health by email.

This paper is available as PDF (218 K) or via email.

Machine-readable bibliographic record - MARC, RIS, BibTeX

Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w13289

Published: Baum II, Charles L. & Ruhm, Christopher J., 2009. "Age, socioeconomic status and obesity growth," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(3), pages 635-648, May. citation courtesy of

Users who downloaded this paper also downloaded these:
Baum and Chou w17423 The Socio-Economic Causes of Obesity
Philipson and Posner w14010 Is the Obesity Epidemic a Public Health Problem? A Decade of Research on the Economics of Obesity
Chou, Grossman, and Saffer w9247 An Economic Analysis of Adult Obesity: Results from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System
Ruhm w13181 Current and Future Prevalence of Obesity and Severe Obesity in the United States
Anderson, Butcher, and Schanzenbach w13479 Childhood Disadvantage and Obesity: Is Nurture Trumping Nature?
 
Publications
Activities
Meetings
NBER Videos
Data
People
About

Support
National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138; 617-868-3900; email: info@nber.org

Contact Us