Socioeconomic Gradients in Body Mass Index (BMI) in US Immigrants during the Transition to Adulthood: Examining the Roles of Parental Education and Inter-generational Educational Mobility

Albrecht, Sandra S.; & Gordon-Larsen, Penny. (2014). Socioeconomic Gradients in Body Mass Index (BMI) in US Immigrants during the Transition to Adulthood: Examining the Roles of Parental Education and Inter-generational Educational Mobility. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 68(9), 842-8. PMCID: PMC4133132

Albrecht, Sandra S.; & Gordon-Larsen, Penny. (2014). Socioeconomic Gradients in Body Mass Index (BMI) in US Immigrants during the Transition to Adulthood: Examining the Roles of Parental Education and Inter-generational Educational Mobility. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 68(9), 842-8. PMCID: PMC4133132

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Background: Despite comparatively lower socioeconomic status (SES), immigrants tend to have lower body weight and weaker SES gradients relative to U.S.-born individuals. Yet, it is unknown how changes in SES over the life-course relate to body weight in immigrants versus US-born individuals. Methods: We used longitudinal data from a nationally- representative, diverse sample of 13701 adolescents followed into adulthood to investigate whether associations between SES mobility categories (educational attainment reported by individuals as adults and by their parents during adolescence) and body mass index (BMI) measured in adulthood varied by immigrant generation. Weighted multivariable linear regression models were adjusted for age, sex, race/ethnicity, and immigrant generation. Results: Among first generation immigrants, although parental education was not associated with adult BMI, an immigrant’s own education attainment was inversely associated with BMI (β=-2.6 kg/m2; standard error (SE)=0.9, p<0.01). In addition, upward educational mobility was associated with lower adult mean BMI than remaining low SES (β=-2.5 kg/m2; SE=1.2, p<0.05). In contrast, among U.S.-born respondents, college education in adulthood did not attenuate the negative association between parental education and adult BMI. Although an SES gradient emerged in adulthood for immigrants, remaining low SES from adolescence to adulthood was not associated with loss of health advantage relative to U.S.-born respondents of U.S.-born parents of similar SES. Conclusion: Immigrants were able to translate higher SES in adulthood into a lower adult mean BMI regardless of childhood SES, whereas the consequences of lower childhood SES had a longer reach even among the upwardly mobile U.S.-born.


Life Course Perspectives
Biological and Social Interactions
1C
2a
2b


JOUR



Albrecht, Sandra S.
Gordon-Larsen, Penny



2014


Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health

68

9

842-8








PMC4133132


8283

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