Weight Gain during the Transition to Adulthood among Children of Immigrants: Is Parental Co-Residence Important?

Elizabeth H. Baker, RAND Corporation

Immigrants tend to be healthier than their native born peers, despite their low socioeconomic status. One common explanation for this is that immigrants bring cultural norms with them that protect themselves from their health hazardous environments. I examine BMI trajectories from adolescence to young adulthood and whether parental co-residence moderates or mediates the relationship between BMI and generation. Home leaving may take children of immigrants away from the cultural protection of their parents and neighborhoods, but may also be associated with increases in young adult socioeconomic status through college attendance. I find that home leaving is associated with increase in BMI for all generations, but this effect is stronger for the first and second generation. Additionally, only among the third or higher generation is this effect explained by family transitions, partnering and childbearing. Lastly, the reason for home leaving (partnering, college attendance, or other) and its association with BMI is examined.

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Presented in Poster Session 4