Household wealth and child body mass index: Patterns and mechanisms


Wealth plays a unique role in shaping later-life health risk, but the relationship between wealth and child health remains largely unexplored. Using longitudinal data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID) (1994–2013), this study uses multilevel mixed-effects models and the parametric g-formula approach to both assess the relationship between household wealth and child body mass index (BMI) and identify the mechanisms linking wealth to child BMI. We find that household wealth is negatively associated with childhood BMI. In addition to finding a strong, direct association, we also find that household wealth indirectly patterns child BMI and obesity risk through household spending and family stress processes. These findings provide new insights into the links between wealth, child health, and early-life population health disparities.

The Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences
Nick Graetz
Nick Graetz
Postdoctoral Research Associate, Princeton University

My research interests include population health, structural racism, housing policy, small area estimation, and causal mediation analysis.