Living in poverty associated with increased risk for teens to be overweight

May 23, 2006

Adolescents aged 15-17 years who live in poverty are more likely to be overweight than those not living in poverty, a difference that has emerged in the past decade, according to a study in the May 24/31 issue of JAMA.

The number of adolescents in the U.S. who are overweight has more than doubled during the past 3 decades. As the prevalence of adolescent overweight continues to increase, so too will its associated consequences, including type 2 diabetes mellitus, hypertension, obstructive sleep apnea, poor quality of life, and increased illness and risk of death in adulthood, according to background information in the article. Whether the increasing prevalence of adolescent overweight is characterized by larger, smaller, or unchanged disparities in overweight status across socioeconomic strata has not been known.

Richard A. Miech, Ph.D., M.P.H., of Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, and colleagues examined trends in the prevalence of overweight among adolescents aged 12 to 17 years by family poverty status. The researchers used data from four cross-sectional, nationally representative surveys (U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys [NHANES] of 1971-1974, 1976-1980, 1988-1994, and 1999-2004).

The authors found that trends in the association of adolescent overweight with family poverty differed by age groups. There was a widening disparity among 15- to 17-year-old adolescents from poor families. This trend was similar among male, female, non-Hispanic white, and non-Hispanic black adolescents, resulting in an overall prevalence of overweight in 1999-2004 more than 50 percent higher among adolescents in poor vs. nonpoor families (23.3 percent vs. 14.4 percent, respectively). In contrast, for 12- to 14-year-old adolescents, prevalence did not significantly differ by family poverty status in any of the surveys; although among non-Hispanic black adolescents, overweight prevalence increased faster in nonpoor vs. poor families.

Additional analyses suggest that physical inactivity, sweetened beverage consumption, and skipping breakfast may contribute to these disparities. The researchers found that among respondents aged 15 to 17 years, the increase in the proportion of calories from sweetened beverages across the last 2 NHANES surveys (1988-1994 and 1999-2002) was significantly larger in poor families (from 9.2 percent to 15.4 percent) compared with nonpoor families (from 11.1 percent to 12.6 percent). Among older adolescents aged 15 to 17 years, the absolute difference in the disparity across poverty status in the prevalence of breakfast skipping increased from 1.1 percent to 16.2 percent across the last 2 NHANES surveys.

"The observed differences across older vs. younger adolescents are consistent with the greater autonomy that comes with increasing age. Adolescents aged 15 to 17 years vs. those aged 12 to 14 years have more opportunities to purchase their own food and determine their own leisure time pursuits and also have more discretionary income with which to act on their preferences," the authors write.

"These results suggest that efforts to reduce health disparities in the United States require monitoring of population health, so that emergent disparities and their underlying causes can be detected and addressed at early stages of their development."
-end-
(JAMA. 2006;295:2385-2393. Available pre-embargo to the media at www.jamamedia.org)

Editor's Note: For funding/support information, please see the JAMA article.

The JAMA Network Journals

Related Overweight Articles from Brightsurf:

Overweight and obesity are associated with a low sperm quality
Researchers from the Rovira i Virgili University in collaboration with researchers from the University of Utah have carried out a systematic review and meta-analysis evaluating the association between adiposity (normal weight, overweight, obesity, and low weight) and the sperm quality.

Depression in adults who are overweight or obese
In an analysis of primary care records of 519,513 UK adults who were overweight or obese between 2000-2016 and followed up until 2019, the incidence of new cases of depression was 92 per 10,000 people per year.

Overweight from cosmetics
Parabens are used as preservatives in cosmetics. If pregnant women use cosmetics containing parabens that remain on the skin for protracted periods, this may have consequences for their child's subsequent weight development.

Overweight before age 40 increases the cancer risk
The risk of cancer increases considerably if you gain weight before the age of 40.

Overweight Danes are more likely to have overweight dogs according to new research
A new study from the University of Copenhagen reports that the prevalence of overweight dogs is markedly larger among overweight owners than among normal weight owners.

Overweight kids actually eat less right after stressful events
People often react to stress by binging on sweets or fattening comfort foods, cravings fueled by the appetite-stimulating stress hormone cortisol.

Abundant screen time linked with overweight among children
A recently completed study indicates that Finnish children who spend a lot of time in front of screens have a heightened risk for overweight and abdominal obesity, regardless of the extent of their physical activity.

Overweight, obesity in children across Europe
This study (called a systematic review and meta-analysis) combined the results of 103 studies with nearly 478,000 children (ages 2 to 13) to look at how common overweight and obesity are among children across Europe.

Overweight men are inhibiting childbirth
About 15% of couples in fertile age have experienced fertility problems.

Being overweight as a teen may be associated with cardiomyopathy in adulthood
The risk of developing cardiomyopathy, which often leads to heart failure, increased in adult Swedish men who were even mildly overweight around age 18.

Read More: Overweight News and Overweight Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.