Does childhood obesity hinder human capital development?

Principal Investigator: Professor Franco Sassi

Funder: Health Foundation

Duration: January 2018 – December 2021



To establish the causal pathways that link childhood obesity to human capital development and social outcomes, with a focus on educational attainment, labour market outcomes (employment, wages and sick leave) and indicators of civic participation in three UK cohorts.


The project will address an important set of research questions on the social and economic impacts of childhood obesity by leveraging some of the most detailed longitudinal data sources available in the UK as well as innovative approaches to assessing causality and the links between health and social outcomes. It will do so with a view to making an impact on the actins of key stakeholders involved in addressing the problem. In particular, the study will rely on two national cohort studies reflecting the lives of individuals born in 1958 and 1970, and on a local cohort study of children born in 1991-92 providing a unique set of information based on biomarkers, anthropometric measures, linkages with rich administrative data, along with more traditional survey questions. The study will leverage biomarkers in the latter cohort and genetic information in all three cohorts in a detailed investigation of the causal pathways that link children early life exposures and background socioeconomic status to their likelihood of developing obesity in young age, to the social and economic outcomes associated with childhood obesity. In particular, the study will focus on dimensions of human capital (education and cognitive skills) and returns to human capital, in the form of employment and earnings, as well as forms of civic participation and social engagement.

Outputs & Impact