American Sociological Association

Stuck in Unhealthy Places: How Entering, Exiting, and Remaining in Poor and Nonpoor Neighborhoods Is Associated with Obesity during the Transition to Adulthood

Adolescents from poor versus nonpoor neighborhoods are more likely to become obese during the transition to adulthood. It is unclear whether this pertains to all adolescents from poor neighborhoods or only those who remain in disadvantaged settings. Further, it is unknown how neighborhood poverty entries and exits are associated with obesity. Using census and interview data from 12,164 National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health participants, I find that those who consistently live in poor neighborhoods are more likely to become or remain obese by adulthood than those who never live in poor neighborhoods. Exiting severe neighborhood poverty curtails this risk, while entering and remaining in neighborhood poverty in adulthood increases it. These patterns are more pronounced for young women and robust to adjustments for health behaviors and selection bias. Findings support accumulation of risks and social mobility perspectives and highlight how previous and current neighborhood contexts are relevant for health.


Lippert, A. M.





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