Becoming Obese in Young Adulthood: The Role of Career-Family Sequences in the Transition to Adulthood for Men and Women in the United States

Aart Liefbroer, Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute (NIDI-KNAW)
Francesco C. Billari, Bocconi University
Jarl Mooyaart, Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute (NIDI)

This study examines the extent to which family and career trajectories during the transition to adulthood (age 17 to 27) influence the risk of becoming obese in young adulthood (age 28). In this study we adopt a holistic approach, acknowledging the complexity of the transition to adulthood, by examining how career-family sequences rather than single events influence the risk of obesity. We use data from NLSY97 (N=4688) to first identify typical career-family sequences using multichannel sequence analysis, and subsequently investigate whether certain types of sequences are associated with becoming obese at the end of young adulthood. We interact the career-family clusters with gender and control for family background factors (race, parental education, parental income and family structure). Results indicate that those who go to college, leave the parental home, but do not enter a union or have children, have the lowest risk of obesity. The results stress the importance of examining role combinations and gender differences when relating the transition to adulthood to obesity.

Presented in Session 1131: Life Course