Nav: Home

Persistent poverty affects one in five UK children

June 11, 2019

Persistent poverty affects one in five children in the UK, and is associated with poor physical and mental health in early adolescence, suggests research published online in the Archives of Disease in Childhood.

Ending child poverty should become a policy priority to ensure that UK children achieve their full potential, argue the researchers.

Child poverty is rising in the UK. In 2016-17, 30% (4.1 million) children were reported to be living in poverty, up from 27% in 2010-11. By 2023-24, the proportion living in relative poverty is on course to hit 37%, affecting an extra 1.1 million children.

Persistent poverty is associated with poorer mental, social, and behavioural development in children, as well as worse educational outcomes, employment prospects, and earning power into adulthood.

What's less clear is whether specific patterns of exposure to poverty have different effects on adolescent physical and mental health.

To explore this further, a team of UK researchers analysed data on 10,652 children from the UK Millennium Cohort Study, a large nationally representative sample of babies born between 2000 and 2002 who have been tracked throughout childhood.

Poverty (defined as less than 60% of average household income) was measured at 9 months, and at 3, 5, 7, 11 and 14 years of age.

Mental health was measured using a validated questionnaire; physical health was measured by obesity (BMI); and parents were asked to report any longstanding illness when their child was 14.

Almost one in five (19.4%) children experienced persistent poverty across all time points, whereas more than 60% (62.4%) of children didn't. A further 13.4% of children experienced poverty in early childhood (between 9 months and 7 years), while the remaining 5% experienced it in late childhood (11 to 14 years).

After adjusting for the mother's education and ethnicity, the researchers found that compared with children who never experienced poverty, any period of poverty was associated with worse physical and mental health in early adolescence.

In particular, those in persistent poverty had a 3 times higher risk of mental ill health, a 1.5 times greater risk of obesity, and nearly double the risk of longstanding illness than children who had never been poor.

Poverty in early childhood was also associated with a higher risk of obesity in adolescence than in late childhood, while mental ill health and longstanding illness were more strongly associated with poverty in late childhood.

This is an observational study, and as such, can't establish cause. What's more, some measures were based on parents' self-report, so may not have been completely accurate, while missing data may also have affected the results, say the researchers.

But they point out that this is a large, nationally representative study, rich in data on family characteristics, added to which the findings are consistent with those of other similar studies.

They warn that the impact of rising levels of poverty on children's mental health "is likely to have profound implications for social policies and their associated social costs, given mental health tracks from early life to adulthood."

And they call for "a renewed commitment" by the UK government to prioritise ending child poverty. Health professionals "are well-placed to argue that policies and services in the UK should fulfil our moral and legal responsibility to ensure that every child is able to achieve their full potential," they suggest.
-end-


BMJ

Related Obesity Articles:

How much do obesity and addictions overlap?
A large analysis of personality studies has found that people with obesity behave somewhat like people with addictions to alcohol or drugs.
Should obesity be recognized as a disease?
With obesity now affecting almost a third (29%) of the population in England, and expected to rise to 35% by 2030, should we now recognize it as a disease?
Is obesity associated with risk of pediatric MS?
A single-center study of 453 children in Germany with multiple sclerosis (MS) investigated the association of obesity with pediatric MS risk and with the response of first-line therapy in children with MS.
Women with obesity prior to conception are more likely to have children with obesity
A systematic review and meta-analysis identified significantly increased odds of child obesity when mothers have obesity before conception, according to a study published June 11, 2019 in the open-access journal PLOS Medicine by Nicola Heslehurst of Newcastle University in the UK, and colleagues.
Obesity medicine association announces major updates to its adult obesity algorithm
The Obesity Medicine Association (OMA) announced the immediate availability of the 2019 OMA Adult Obesity Algorithm, with new information for clinicians including the relationship between Obesity and Cardiovascular Disease, Diabetes Mellitus, Dyslipidemia, and Cancer; information on investigational Anti-Obesity Pharmacotherapy; treatments for Lipodystrophy; and Pharmacokinetics and Obesity.
Systematic review shows risk of a child developing overweight or obesity is more than trebled by maternal obesity prior to pregnancy
New research presented at this year's European Congress on Obesity (ECO) in Glasgow, Scotland (April 28- May 1) reveals that the risk of a child becoming overweight or obese is more than trebled by maternal obesity prior to getting pregnant.
Eating later in the day may be associated with obesity
Eating later in the day may contribute to weight gain, according to a new study to be presented Saturday at ENDO 2019, the Endocrine Society's annual meeting in New Orleans, La.
How obesity affects vitamin D metabolism
A new Journal of Bone and Mineral Research study confirms that vitamin D supplementation is less effective in the presence of obesity, and it uncovers a biological mechanism to explain this observation.
Wired for obesity
In a multi-center collaboration, scientists at Children's Hospital Los Angeles and University of Cambridge discover a set of genes that help to establish brain connections governing body weight.
Sarcopenic obesity: The ignored phenotype
A new condition, that occurs in the presence of both sarcopenia and obesity and termed as ''sarcopenic obesity'', and that describes under the same phenotype the increase in body fat mass deposition, and the reduction in lean mass and muscle strength.
More Obesity News and Obesity Current Events

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2019.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

In & Out Of Love
We think of love as a mysterious, unknowable force. Something that happens to us. But what if we could control it? This hour, TED speakers on whether we can decide to fall in — and out of — love. Guests include writer Mandy Len Catron, biological anthropologist Helen Fisher, musician Dessa, One Love CEO Katie Hood, and psychologist Guy Winch.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#543 Give a Nerd a Gift
Yup, you guessed it... it's Science for the People's annual holiday episode that helps you figure out what sciency books and gifts to get that special nerd on your list. Or maybe you're looking to build up your reading list for the holiday break and a geeky Christmas sweater to wear to an upcoming party. Returning are pop-science power-readers John Dupuis and Joanne Manaster to dish on the best science books they read this past year. And Rachelle Saunders and Bethany Brookshire squee in delight over some truly delightful science-themed non-book objects for those whose bookshelves are already full. Since...
Now Playing: Radiolab

An Announcement from Radiolab