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OBJECTIVE: This study examined the association between socioeconomic status (SES) and obesity risk during early adolescence, ages 10–13 years, and whether this association is present in different racial/ethnic and gender groups during 2 time points in early adolescence. METHOD: Data were from the Healthy Passages study, which enrolled 4,824 African American, Hispanic, and White 5th graders (ages 10–11) in a population-based, longitudinal study conducted in 3 U.S. metropolitan areas, and assessed them again 2 years later. Weight status was classified from measured body mass index using standard criteria into nonobese and obese (27% in 5th grade). SES was indexed based on highest education attainment in the household. RESULTS: Youth in the high-education households had significantly less obesity than those in low-education households at both 5th and 7th grades. Within-racial/ethnic group analyses mostly confirmed this pattern for Hispanic and White youth, but not for African American youth. When also considering gender, the education differential in obesity risk was more pronounced among White girls and 5th-grade Hispanic boys. CONCLUSION: Growing up in a home in which at least one member has a four-year college degree is associated with lower risk for obesity among Hispanic and White youth. Further research should identify influences on weight status beyond household education, especially among African American youth.

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