Wealth and Obesity Among US Adults Entering Midlife

Academic Article


  • Objective: This study examines the relationship between wealth and obesity among adults entering midlife and whether this relationship varies by sex, race, and measure of wealth. Methods: The data were obtained from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979 (NLSY-79). Population-averaged models were used to examine the associations between multiple measures of wealth and obesity among 6,979 respondents while controlling for education, occupation, income, and relevant sociodemographic variables. Results: The analysis found a robust association between wealth and midlife obesity as well as heterogeneity in the wealth-obesity association across sex, race, and measure of wealth. With the exception of black men, net worth generally had a significant and inverse relationship with obesity. The net worth–obesity association was largest among women and was driven primarily by home value, in addition to savings and debt for black women. Although home value was significant for white men, the components of wealth were generally unrelated to obesity among men. Conclusions: The association between wealth and obesity was generally robust but also complex, depending on sex, race, and measure of wealth. Research that does not consider multiple components of wealth may overlook the importance of economic resources in shaping obesity rates in the US population.
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Wolfe JD; Baker EH; Scarinci IC
  • Start Page

  • 2067
  • End Page

  • 2075
  • Volume

  • 27
  • Issue

  • 12