Poorer children three times more likely to be obese than better-off peers - study finds

The study was completed by University College London and London School of Economics
14/12/2015 - 09:55
Poorer children are almost three times more likely to be obese than their better off peers, according to a new study.

The research shows that at age five, poor children almost twice as likely to be obese compared with their richer peers, with 6.6% of children in the poorest fifth of the sample classed as obese, while just 3.5% of the richest fifth are obese.

However, by the age of 11, the gap has widened, nearly tripling to 7.9% of the poorest fifth are obese, for the best-off, the figure is just 2.9%.

The study examined dietary habits such as whether the child skipped breakfast, as well as fruit and sweet drink consumption, as well as environmental factors such as whether the mother smoked during pregnancy, how long she breastfed for, whether the child was introduced to solid food before the age of four months and whether the mother herself was overweight or obese.

Physical behaviour was also assessed, including the frequency of sport or exercise, active play with a parent, hours spent watching TV or playing on a computer, journeys by bike and the time that children went to bed.

Researchers found that 11.4% of five year olds from the poorest backgrounds regularly skipped breakfast, whereas just 3.5% of the richest did the same. Similarly almost a quarter (24%) from the poorest background regularly consumed sugary drinks, with just 13% from the richest background doing so.

Professor Yvonne Kelly of University College London and senior author of the study, said: “The ‘structural’ causes of socioeconomic inequalities have to be addressed along with tackling ‘inherited’ obesity via lifestyle factors that tend to go with lower incomes. Early intervention with parents clearly has huge potential. And evidence from our work suggests that this should start before birth or even conception.”

The study found that regular fruit consumption, earlier bedtimes and doing sport more than three times a week played an important role. Overall, the study found that markers of ‘unhealthy’ lifestyle meant as much as a 20% additional risk of obesity for child.

Researchers from University College London and London School of Economics used data from the Millennium Cohort Study (MCS). The data tracks nearly 20,000 families from across the UK and used measurements made when the children were aged 5, and again at age 11.

To read the full report Why are poorer children at higher risk of obesity and overweight? A UK cohort study in the European Journal of Public Health, click here.

Copyright 2019 Cost Sector Catering
Dewberry Redpoint Limited is a company Registered in England and Wales No : 03129594 Registered Office:
Riverbridge House, Anchor Boulevard, Crossways Business Park, Dartford, DA2 6SL VAT registered, number 305 8752 95.

Design & Development by Eton Digital