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Obesity and Women's Fertility Trajectories Frisco, Michelle


Webcast sponsored by the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre and hosted by Green College's Population Health Series. This study asks whether obesity is associated with young women’s life course childbearing experiences. Weight is a physical status with important biological and social components that is linked to several proximate determinants of fertility. As such, negative consequences of obesity may accumulate over the life course leading obese young women to be stratified into disadvantaged positions for childbearing. This leads to hypotheses that obese young women have fewer children, a higher risk of remaining childless and later timing of first birth than their non-obese counterparts. Twenty-three years of data from a sample of NLSY79 female respondents who were ages 20 to 24 in 1981 are analyzed to test these hypotheses, which are all supported. In fact, obese women’s predicted probability of remaining childless is almost the same as their probability of winning a coin toss. Their estimated probability for giving birth in each study year is even lower. Results confirm obese young women’s position of disadvantage for childbearing and suggest that negative consequences of obesity accumulate across a life domain that is incredibly important for the vast majority of American women.

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