Poverty, Ethnicity, and Risk of Obesity Among Low Birth Weight Infants

The independent and joint effects of family and neighborhood poverty and ethnicity upon weight trajectories from age two to six-and-a-half were examined using data from the Infant Health and Development Program (N = 985), an early intervention program for low birth weight children and families.

  • At age two, family poverty was associated with higher body mass index (BMI), whereas neighborhood poverty and ethnicity were not.
  • Over time, the BMI of toddlers from poor and near-poor neighborhoods increased rapidly, while those from non-poor neighborhoods remained stable.
  • BMIs of Hispanic-American toddlers increased steadily over time, unlike African-American and Anglo-American toddlers. Although initially similar, over time African-American toddlers' BMIs increased more rapidly than Anglo-American toddlers.
  • Family and neighborhood poverty and ethnicity were associated with BMI.
  • More work is needed on how poverty and ethnicity contribute to differences in early weight gain in conjunction with sociocultural and environmental factors in the home and community

Klebanov, P.K., Evans, G.W., & Brooks-Gunn, J. (2014). Poverty, ethnicity, and risk of obesity among low birth weight infants. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 35(3), 245-253. doi: org/10.1016/j.appdev.2014.01.003.

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