The intergenerational correlation in weight: How genetic resemblance reveals the social role of families

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According to behavioral genetics research, the intergenerational correlation in weight derives solely from shared genetic predispositions, but complete genetic determinism contradicts the scientific consensus that social and behavioral change underlies the modern obesity epidemic. To address this conundrum, this article utilizes sibling data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health and extends structural equation sibling models to incorporate siblings' genetic relationships in order to explore the role of families' social characteristics for adolescent weight. The article is the first to demonstrate that the association between parents' obesity and adolescent weight is both social and genetic. Furthermore, by incorporating genetic information, the shared and social origins of the correlation between inactivity and weight are better revealed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S67-S105
JournalAmerican Journal of Sociology
Issue numberSUPPL. 1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2008


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science

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