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Econ Hum Biol. 2012 Dec;10(4):375-84. doi: 10.1016/j.ehb.2012.04.005. Epub 2012 May 15.

Obesity, family instability, and socioemotional health in adolescence.

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Department of Sociology and Population Research Center, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX 78712-1088, United States.


The last two decades have witnessed dramatic increases in obesity and family instability. To the extent that the social stigma of obesity is a risk factor and family instability represents the potential compromise of important protective factors, their convergence may disrupt socioemotional health, especially during periods of heightened social uncertainty. Drawing on data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, this study found that obese youth at the start of high school had higher levels of internalizing symptoms and lower levels of perceived social integration in school only when they had also experienced multiple family transitions since birth. This pattern, however, did not hold for boys, and it did not extend to overweight (as opposed to obese) adolescents of either gender.

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