Childhood predictors of adult obesity in the Chicago Longitudinal Study

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Despite obesity being a major concern for both children and adults in the United States today, there are few successful childhood interventions that curb obesity later in life. The objective of the current study is to identify childhood predictors of adult obesity at multiple levels in a large longitudinal sample of participants from an economically disadvantaged childhood cohort. 1065 participants (93% Black) from the Chicago Longitudinal Study were interviewed as part of a 30-year follow-up between 2012 and 2017. Parent involvement, school quality, neighborhood human capital, socioemotional learning skills, and achievement motivation assessed before age 12 years were examined as predictors of Body Mass Index (BMI) at age 35 years. Child neighborhood human capital and socioemotional learning skills predicted a lower BMI in adulthood and a decreased likelihood of being classified as obese; when separately analyzed by sex, both neighborhood human capital and higher socioemotional learning skills predicted a decreased likelihood of obesity for males and females. Being female and higher birthweight were associated with larger adult BMI. Socioemotional learning and neighborhood human capital in childhood consistently predict a decreased likelihood of being obese at age 35 in this predominately Black sample. Future obesity intervention/prevention programs should aim to bolster childhood socioemotional learning resources and neighborhood capital.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number105993
JournalPreventive medicine
StatePublished - Mar 2020

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© 2020 Elsevier Inc.


  • Neighborhood context
  • Obesity
  • Socioemotional learning


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