Adolescent Girl’s Weight and High School Fertility: The Role of School Context

Jennifer Buher Kane, Pennsylvania State University
Michelle Frisco, Pennsylvania State University

Previous research shows that obese adolescent girls have reduced odds of romantic and sexual partnership, but the relationship between obesity and their fertility has not been established. We propose that obesity generally decreases girls’ risk of a high school birth given her limited opportunities for partnership, but that certain aspects of school context moderate this association in ways that reduce the constraint of obesity on childbearing for some girls and increase this constraint for others. This premise is rooted in theory regarding risk regulators. Using data from Add Health female respondents (n=5,039), we test this premise, which is generally supported. Obesity reduces a girl’s odds of a high school birth, but this risk varies according to the proportion of obese students and aggregate levels of school attachment within her school. Findings show how an important population health problem differentially influences an off-time, demographic life course transitions within disparate social contexts.

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Presented in Session 85: The Association Between Body Weight, Pubertal Timing and Adolescent Sexual Behavior