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Childhood Disadvantage and Obesity

Childhood Disadvantage and Obesity

Is Nurture Trumping Nature?

(p.149) 5 Childhood Disadvantage and Obesity
The Problems of Disadvantaged Youth
Patricia M. AndersonKristin F. ButcherDiane Whitmore Schanzenbach
University of Chicago Press

Obesity has been one of the fastest-growing health concerns among children, particularly among disadvantaged children, carrying with it both long- and short-term consequences. Understanding the increase in childhood obesity is important for devising policies to deal with this health problem. Although recent research and policy activity surrounding this issue has focused particularly on the food available to children through schools, there is a gap in the knowledge when it comes to the impact of the home environment on children's obesity. This chapter focuses on a fundamental component of health status—obesity—for which disadvantaged children have particularly poor outcomes. It sheds light on how parents' health status is related to their children's, how that relationship differs for disadvantaged and advantaged children, and how the relationship changes over time. Economic research on obesity has focused on changes in the (implicit) prices of food and exercise that have increased caloric intake and reduced energy expenditure. Designing good policies to affect childhood obesity will require an understanding of how the environment that children face is related to their body mass.

Keywords:   obesity, childhood, health status, disadvantaged children, economic research

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