Effects of Growing Up in Separate and Unequal Neighborhoods on Racial Disparities in Obesity in Early Adulthood

Nicole D. Kravitz-Wirtz, University of Washington

Evidence suggests that residents of socioeconomically disadvantaged neighborhoods are at increased risk for obesity. Yet most research relies on cross-sectional data, which implicitly ignores continuity and change in the residential conditions individuals experience over time. Using the 1970-2011 waves of the Panel Study of Income Dynamics merged with census data on respondents’ neighborhoods, this study estimates marginal structural models with inverse-probability-of-treatment and censoring weights to investigate the effects of duration and timing of exposure to neighborhood disadvantage from birth through age 17 on obesity incidence in early adulthood. Findings reveal that prolonged exposure to neighborhood disadvantage throughout childhood and adolescence is strikingly more common among nonwhites than whites and is associated with significantly greater odds of being obese at least once between ages 18 and 30. Moreover, exposure to neighborhood-level deprivation during adolescence appears more consequential for future (young adult) obesity than exposures that occur earlier in childhood.

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Presented in Poster Session 5: Adult Health and Mortality