Material Hardship on Obesity Status among Fragile Families and the Role of Public Assistance Programs
Lorenzo Almada, Columbia University
The recent rise in obesity can be attributed to multiple biological and environmental influences. Material hardships can directly or indirectly affect weight through various channels including changes to eating habits as well as increases in stress factors. This study uses The Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study to investigate the effects of multiple measures of material hardship (food insecurity, trouble paying bills, housing insecurity, utility cutoffs, and forgoing medical services due to financial constraints) on obesity levels of both caregivers and children. Furthermore, the study investigates the relationship between participating in one or multiple government assistance programs to identify the role of public transfers on household of material hardships status. Analysis consists of multivariate panel data methods including fixed-effects specifications to account for time-invariant unobservable factors and to mitigate issues of selection.