AUSTIN, Texas—Obese girls are half as likely to attend college as non-obese
girls, according to a new study from The University of Texas at Austin.
The study also shows obese girls are even less likely to enter college
if they attend a high school where obesity is relatively uncommon. The findings
appear in the July issue of the journal Sociology of Education.
tracked nearly 11,000 American adolescents, using data from the National
Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health.
"Obesity has been identified as
a serious public health issue, but these results indicate the harmful effects
extend far beyond physical health," said Robert Crosnoe, author of the study and
a sociologist at the university.
Crosnoe suggests a number of mental
health and behavioral issues seem to play a significant role in keeping obese
girls from enrolling in college. The study found obese girls were more likely to
consider committing suicide, use alcohol and marijuana and have negative
The disconnect between obesity and college enrollment was
more pronounced among non-whites and among girls whose parents did not graduate
from college. Obese boys did not differ from their non-obese peers in college
"That girls are far more vulnerable to the non-health risks
of obesity reinforces the notion that body image is more important to girls'
self-concept and that social norms have greater effects on the education of
girls than boys," Crosnoe noted.
About the American Sociological Association
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