Friday, November 9, 2012: 8:00 AM-9:30 AM
Pratt A (Sheraton Baltimore City Center Hotel)
*Names in bold indicate Presenter
Organizers: Taryn Morrissey, American University
Moderators: Caroline Fichtenberg, American Public Health Association and Diane Gibson, Baruch College, City University of New York
Chairs: Joseph Sabia, University of New Hampshire
The family, school, and neighborhood contexts and the interactions among these settings influence children’s development, including their physical development (e.g., Bronfenbrenner & Morris, 1998). Using nationally-representative, longitudinal samples of young children, the three papers in this panel explore several pathways through which the family, school, and neighborhood environments affect children’s body mass index (BMI; a measure of weight-for-height), risk for obesity, eating habits, and physical activity. The data for all three papers include measured weight and height information. In the first paper, Datar, Nicosia, and Shier use fixed-effects and instrumental variables techniques with data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Kindergarten Class (ECLS-K) to examine how maternal employment influences children’s food consumption, physical activity, and weight outcomes. The second paper uses the ECLS-K to investigate the impact of state physical education (PE) requirements on physical activity and obesity among elementary school students. Using instrumental variables techniques, Cawley, Frisvold, and Meyerhoefer find that PE requirements increase the time children spend in physical education, and in turn, additional time in PE class decreases children’s BMI and risk for obesity. The final paper by Morrissey, Jacknowitz, and Vinopal uses child-level data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Birth Cohort (ECLS-B) and data on food prices from the ACCRA Cost-of-Living Index (COLI) to examine how the local food environment, specifically food prices, influences BMI, eating patterns, and the likelihood of being overweight and food insecure during early childhood. Using OLS and fixed effects models, they find that higher fruit and vegetable prices, and surprisingly, higher fast food prices, are associated with increases in child BMI and the likelihood of being overweight. Presentations will provide an interdisciplinary perspective on the contextual influences on child health, representing public policy, economics, and developmental psychology. Our two discussants, one with experience in policy and advocacy in public health (Caroline Fitchenberg), and the other with a record of research on weight-related health outcomes (Diane Gibson), will provide insight into how these findings can be translated to policy and practice, and how current policy and practices can inform future research directions and approaches.