Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Sociology, Social Work, and Anthropology


Michel B. Toney


Edna Helen Berry


Obesity has reached epidemic proportions in American society. However, not enough attention has been given to weight change by temporal and dynamic detailed social characteristics, controlled for unobserved heterogeneities nested in county and state. Using the National Longitudinal Survey Youth (NLSY79), this study examined weight change and its development into unhealthy conditions like being overweight or obese, in relation to change in social characteristics including life course events. This study also examined the social characteristics of remaining at a normal weight through all time intervals over a 19-year period. Using hierarchical linear multilevel analysis, this study found that changes in social characteristics over time could be linked to weight status for both males and females. Young males with normal weight are more vulnerable to changes in life events than females. This study's identification of risky life events among young adults could lead to prevention strategies for the obesity epidemic.

Included in

Sociology Commons