Early childhood poverty, cumulative risk exposure, and body mass index trajectories through young adulthood

Nancy M. Wells, Gary W. Evans, Anna Beavis, Anthony D. Ong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Objectives. We assessed whether cumulative risk exposure underlies the relation between early childhood poverty and body mass index (BMI) trajectories. Methods. We interviewed youths and their mothers in rural upstate New York (168 boys and 158 girls) from 1995 to 2006 when the youths were aged 9, 13, and 17 years. At each interview, we calculated their BMI-for-age percentile. Results. Early childhood poverty predicted BMI growth trajectories from ages 9 to 17 years (b=3.64; SE=1.39; P<.01). Early childhood poverty also predicted changes in cumulative risk (b=0.31; SE=0.08; P<.001). Cumulative risk, in turn, predicted BMI trajectories (b=2.41; SE=0.75; P<.01). Finally, after we controlled for cumulative risk, the effect of early childhood poverty on BMI trajectories was no longer signi?cant, indicating that cumulative risk exposure mediated the relation between early childhood poverty and BMI trajectories (b=2.01; SE=0.94). Conclusions. We show for the ?rst time that early childhood poverty leads to accelerated weight gain over the course of childhood into early adulthood. Cumulative risk exposure during childhood accounts for much of this accelerated weight gain.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2507-2512
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican journal of public health
Volume100
Issue number12
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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