MPIDR Working Paper
Teen overweight, weight stigma, and intimate relationship development from adolescence to young adulthood
Cheng, Y. A., Landale, N. S.
MPIDR Working Paper WP-2010-008, 38 pages.
Rostock, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (February 2010)
With an emphasis on how weight stigma is manifested in social relationship context, this study explores two under-studied consequences of adolescent overweight, timing of first sex and subsequent intimate relationship development. The data employed come from Waves I to III of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. The results indicate that overweight adolescents have significantly later onset of first sex and are more likely to enter early adulthood without any intimate relationship experience when compared to normal-weight youth. Overweight adolescents are vulnerable to discriminatory treatments such as being rejected by or having less close relationships with peers and are thus less likely to have any intimate relationship. The study contributes to the existing literature on overweight youth by revealing the critical role of prejudiced social encounters in peer relationships as the key context that hinders the development of intimate relationships from adolescence to early adulthood. Future studies should seek to understand the broader implications of poor social adjustments during adolescence for later development.