Obese Girls Are More Likely to Avoid Going to College, Study Finds

July 23, 2007

Many obese girls skip college because of mental and behavior problems associated with their weight, a researcher at the University of Texas at Austin has found.

According to a study published in the July issue of the journal Sociology of Education, obese adolescent girls are half as likely to go to college as are non-obese girls, and those who attended a high school where obesity was uncommon were even less likely to enroll.

The study, which tracked 11,000 teenagers, also found that obese teen girls were more likely to consider suicide, have negative self-images, and use alcohol and marijuana than their non-obese peers.

By contrast, the study found little difference between the college-enrollment rates for obese and non-obese boys, leading to the conclusion that body image plays a greater role in girls’ self-concept and education choices.

“Obesity has been identified as a serious public-health issue, but these results indicate the harmful effects extend far beyond physical health,” said Robert Crosnoe, an associate professor of sociology at Austin and author of the study. —Paula Wasley