Li, Miao (2020). Adolescent college expectation and nutritional health in adulthood: The hidden power of social position. Social Science & Medicine.
Few studies investigated whether expected college attendance in adolescence may generate comparable health benefits in early adulthood for the disadvantaged and the privileged. Using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health, this study examined the contingent associations of college attendance expectation with weekly fast food consumption (FFC), sugar-sweetened beverage consumption (SBC), physical activity (PA), and obesity in early adulthood based on four social position indicators: family poverty, neighborhood poverty, parental education, and race. Results suggested that family poverty, neighborhood poverty, and low parental education significantly compromised college expectation's associations with all outcomes except for PA. Further, college expectation's negative associations with FFC and SBC were lower for Blacks than for Whites; and college expectation's negative association with SBC and positive association with PA were lower for Hispanics than for Whites. These findings imply that the “ambition inflation” among American youth, often celebrated by the American culture for its acclaimed life changing power, may be not equally benefiting the disadvantaged and the privileged. Future behavioral interventions focusing on fostering a positive outlook in youth should consider possible effect heterogeneity based on social background.
Social Science & Medicine