Lykke, Lucia Christine (2018). Overweight and obesity and romantic relationship racial composition among White dating, cohabiting, and married young adults. Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association.
Romantic relationships, particularly marriage, and to a lesser extent, cohabitation, are generally protective of physical and mental health. However, despite this protective effect on health, romantic relationships are actually associated with higher body mass index (BMI). Further, this relationship varies by race and ethnicity, though the existing literature is scarce. This study extends the current research on relationships, BMI, and race/ethnicity by examining the association between being overweight and obese with partner race/ethnicity among White young adults. I also examine to what extent this association is due to selection on weight status into new relationships versus differences in weight change over time in existing relationships. Data come from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health. I find a positive association between being overweight or obese and having a Black and Hispanic partner for non-Hispanic White women. Moreover, I find evidence that overweight/obese White women are more likely to select into new partnerships with Black partners. I also find differences in weight change over time, such that White women with Black partners are more likely to become overweight or obese over time compared to White women with White partners. I do not find statistically significant associations between partner race and weight status for White men. I interpret these findings on the associations between partner race/ethnicity and BMI as evidence for gendered standards of beauty that are particularly oppressive for overweight and obese women and also as consistent with social exchange theories of exogamous partnering.
overweight obesity romantic relationships race/ethnicity body mass index
Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association
1283. Section on the Sociology of the Family Refereed Roundtable Session
Lykke, Lucia Christine
City of Publication