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Robert Crosnoe, Chair CLA 3.306, Mailcode A1700, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-232-6300

Obese Girls Less Likely to Attend College, Research Shows

Dr Robert Crosnoe's findings appear in the July issue of the journal Sociology of Education.

Posted: July 25, 2007

The study also shows obese girls are even less likely to enter college if they attend a high school where obesity is relatively uncommon. The findings appear in the July issue of the journal Sociology of Education.

The study tracked nearly 11,000 American adolescents, using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health.

"Obesity has been identified as a serious public health issue, but these results indicate the harmful effects extend far beyond physical health," said Robert Crosnoe, author of the study and Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology.

Crosnoe suggests a number of mental health and behavioral issues seem to play a significant role in keeping obese girls from enrolling in college. The study found obese girls were more likely to consider committing suicide, use alcohol and marijuana and have negative self-images.

The disconnect between obesity and college enrollment was more pronounced among non-whites and among girls whose parents did not graduate from college. Obese boys did not differ from their non-obese peers in college enrollment.

"That girls are far more vulnerable to the non-health risks of obesity reinforces the notion that body image is more important to girls' self-concept and that social norms have greater effects on the education of girls than boys," Crosnoe noted.

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