Obesity and Social Capital over the Life Course: Does Gaining Weight Mean Bowling Alone?

Sandra T. Marquart-Pyatt, Utah State University
Eric N. Reither, Utah State University
Christy M. Glass, Utah State University

In this research, we seek to integrate two burgeoning literatures: social capital from the social sciences and the obesity epidemic in public health scholarship. Using the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study, we explore whether changes in body mass between the ages of 17-18 and 53-54 influence the acquisition of social capital, and whether these effects differ for men and women. In addition to weight change, other potential sources of social capital accumulation are taken into account, including social background and social psychological influences. Results indicate that rather than having broad, predictive power, the influence of weight change is linked to participation in certain kinds of associational life, and, furthermore, differs in some respects for men and women.

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Presented in Session 115: Effects of Health on Development of Human Capital II