The Association between Adolescent Obesity and Civic Participation in Early Adulthood



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The prevalence of childhood and adolescent obesity has increased rapidly in many parts of the world. Due to its effects on cardiovascular risk, diabetes, and mortality in adulthood, obesity is now considered a severe public health issue in many settings. However, obesity in early life also has adverse social and psychological ramifications, including teasing, bullying, discrimination, body shaming, isolation. These social consequences of adolescent obesity may result in individuals being socially excluded or having problems with social integration. As a result, adolescent obesity may affect civic participation in adulthood. By focusing on social biases and discrimination due to adolescent overweight and obesity status which lead to social exclusion, this paper explores whether the overweight and obesity status in adolescence affects civic participation in early adulthood. Additionally, this study also examines if there are sex differences in the association between adolescent obesity and civic participation in early adulthood. To address the research questions, the study uses data from Waves I and IV of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (Add Health). The findings of this study indicate that there is no significant association between adolescents overweight and obese status and early adulthood civic participation. The results also show that there are no significant sex differences in the association of adolescent obesity and civic participation in early adulthood. The findings, though surprising, offer a critical understanding of weight related social biases and discriminations and emphasize the complexity of the association between obesity and civic participation.

Embargo status: Restricted until 01/2027. To request the author grant access, click on the PDF link to the left.



Adolescent Obesity, Social Exclusion, Civic Participation, Early Adulthood