Nav: Home

Influential factors of the social divide in child obesity rates

May 09, 2016

Researchers from the University of Liverpool have identified important early life factors that contribute to childhood obesity rates being different for children from different socio-economic backgrounds.

It is well known that overweight and obesity are more common among children from disadvantaged backgrounds, but it's not known how much of a role early life factors might have in this.

In the first study of its kind researchers from the University's Institute of Psychology, Health and Society found that smoking during pregnancy and being overweight before becoming pregnant account for a sizeable proportion--around 40%--of the persistent social divide in childhood obesity rates.

Socioeconomic circumstances

The research team, led by Dr David Taylor-Robinson, estimated the risk of overweight or obesity at the age of 11 among almost 12,000 children according to their socioeconomic circumstances at birth.

All the children were part of the Millennium Cohort Study, which is tracking the long term health of children born in the UK between September 2000 and January 2002.

The children's weight and height were measured when they were 11 years old. The researchers also looked at the potential impact of a range of factors from responses to detailed questionnaires their mothers had completed.

Increased risk

These factors included whether the mother was overweight before the pregnancy and whether she smoked during it; the birth weight of the child; whether the child was born prematurely or by caesarean section; whether the child was breastfed; and how soon s/he was weaned onto solid foods.

In all complete data were available at both time points for 9424 (80%) of the children. By the age of 11 one in three of the children whose mums had fewer qualifications were overweight compared with one in five of those whose mums who were better educated--to degree level or higher.

After taking account of other influential factors, black/Asian/mixed ethnicity, older maternal age (30 and above), overweight before pregnancy, smoking during pregnancy, high birth weight, absence of breastfeeding, and weaning onto solid foods before the child was 4 months old were all significantly associated with an increased risk of overweight by the time s/he had reached the age of 11.

Educational attainment

Dr David Taylor-Robinson, said: " Our study has shown that socioeconomic circumstances at birth, as measured by mother's educational attainment remained significant after adjusting for all other influential factors.

"Our study also found that the risk of a child being overweight by the age of 11 increased the more heavily the mother smoked during her pregnancy even after taking account of other potentially influential factors.

"Policies to support mothers to maintain a healthy weight, breastfeed and abstain from smoking during pregnancy are important to improve maternal and child health outcomes, and our study provides evidence that they may also help to address the continuing rise in inequalities in childhood overweight,"
The full study, entitled 'Exploring the impact of early life factors on inequalities in risk of overweight in UK children: findings from the Millennium Cohort Study', can be found in the Archives of Disease in Childhood.

University of Liverpool

Related Obesity Articles:

Obesity is in the eye of the beholder
Doctors have a specific definition of what it means to be overweight or obese, but in the social world, gender, race and generation matter a lot for whether people are judged as 'thin enough' or 'too fat.'
Type 2 diabetes and obesity -- what do we really know?
Social and economic factors have led to a dramatic rise in type 2 diabetes and obesity around the world.
Three in 4 don't know obesity causes cancer
Three out of four (75 percent) people in the UK are unaware of the link between obesity and cancer, according to a new Cancer Research UK report published today.
Obesity on the rise in Indonesia
Obesity is on the rise in Indonesia, one of the largest studies of the double burden of malnutrition in children has revealed.
Obesity rates are not declining in US youth
A clear and significant increase in obesity continued from 1999 through 2014, according to an analysis of data on United States children and adolescents age 2 to 19 years.
More Obesity News and Obesity Current Events

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Teaching For Better Humans
More than test scores or good grades — what do kids need to prepare them for the future? This hour, guest host Manoush Zomorodi and TED speakers explore how to help children grow into better humans, in and out of the classroom. Guests include educators Olympia Della Flora and Liz Kleinrock, psychologist Thomas Curran, and writer Jacqueline Woodson.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#535 Superior
Apologies for the delay getting this week's episode out! A technical glitch slowed us down, but all is once again well. This week, we look at the often troubling intertwining of science and race: its long history, its ability to persist even during periods of disrepute, and the current forms it takes as it resurfaces, leveraging the internet and nationalism to buoy itself. We speak with Angela Saini, independent journalist and author of the new book "Superior: The Return of Race Science", about where race science went and how it's coming back.