Economics at your fingertips  

Genes and the intergenerational transmission of BMI and obesity

Timothy J. Classen and Owen Thompson

Economics & Human Biology, 2016, vol. 23, issue C, 121-133

Abstract: This paper compares the strength of intergenerational transmission of body mass index (BMI) and obesity in a sample of adoptees relative to a matched sample of biological children with similar observable characteristics. We find that BMI and obesity are strongly correlated among biological parent-child pairs, but there are no significant intergenerational associations in these health traits among adoptive parent-child pairs. The intergenerational elasticity of BMI for children to their parents is 0.2 in the matched biological sample, but indistinguishable from zero for adopted children with a standard error more than three times as large as the coefficient. Under reasonable assumptions, these findings indicate that the intergenerational transmission of BMI and obesity occurs primarily through genetic mechanisms. Additional analyses of transmission rates by parental gender and among step-parents and step-children support this conclusion. The role of determinants of BMI and obesity in the household environment in relation to our findings is discussed. Given the negative consequences of obesity on earnings and other economic measures, our results suggest that the genetic transmission of weight problems contributes substantially to intergenerational persistence in economic outcomes.

Keywords: Obesity; Adoptees; Intergenerational (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2016
References: View references in EconPapers View complete reference list from CitEc
Citations: View citations in EconPapers (6) Track citations by RSS feed

Downloads: (external link)
Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

Related works:
This item may be available elsewhere in EconPapers: Search for items with the same title.

Export reference: BibTeX RIS (EndNote, ProCite, RefMan) HTML/Text

Persistent link:

DOI: 10.1016/j.ehb.2016.08.001

Access Statistics for this article

Economics & Human Biology is currently edited by J. Komlos, Inas R Kelly and Joerg Baten

More articles in Economics & Human Biology from Elsevier
Bibliographic data for series maintained by Dana Niculescu ().

Page updated 2020-03-30
Handle: RePEc:eee:ehbiol:v:23:y:2016:i:c:p:121-133