Intergenerational Association of Maternal Obesity and Child Peer Victimization in the United States

Miao Li, Rong Fu, Hong Xue, Youfa Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Drawing on the intergenerational stress proliferation theory, the courtesy stigma thesis, and the buffering ethnic culture thesis, this study examines the association between maternal obesity and child’s peer victimization and whether this association varies for white and black children. Based on longitudinal data from a nationally representative sample of mother–child pairs in the U.S. Panel Study of Income Dynamics Child Development Supplement, negative binomial models show that maternal obesity is associated with increased frequency of peer victimization, even after controlling for family socioeconomic status, child weight status, health status, self-esteem, and demographic characteristics. The association was significant only for white children. Given the developmental significance of child peer relations and the social disparities in obesity, future studies need to explicitly test causal mechanisms underlying the association to decide whether obesity may function as a family stressor (versus an individual stressor) that contributes to the intergenerational reproduction of inequality.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)69-83
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of health and social behavior
Volume60
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1 2019

Keywords

  • bullying
  • maternal obesity
  • peer victimization
  • weight stigma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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