Assessing the Role of Health-Related Behaviors in Explaining the Relationship between Poverty and Obesity among Mothers

Margaret Gough, University of La Verne
Adam M. Lippert, Harvard University

The high prevalence of obesity in the U.S. is a significant concern for health and social scientists. Low-income women are at a particularly high risk of becoming obese. This may be partly explained by the gendered division of childrearing responsibilities within families: Mothers faced with poverty-related constraints on the types and amounts of food they can buy may develop rationing strategies that benefit their children’s health at the expense of their own. Long work hours and high stress levels may also contribute to obesity among low-income women, especially mothers. We use data from the American Time Use Survey and Consumer Expenditure Survey to 1) replicate past findings of a link between the intersection of poverty and motherhood and the risk for obesity, and 2) investigate the extent to which this link is explained by measures of day and nighttime health behaviors, including physical activity, food purchasing patterns, and sleep.

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 Presented in Session P7. Health and Mortality of Women, Children and Families