Are low-income kids at greater risk for obesity?
Children from low-income families are 3 times more likely to be obese than children raised in higher income households, according to a report from the United Kingdom.
The study used data from more than 11,000 children and investigated family income, maternal health behaviors, children’s physical activity, sedentary behaviors, and diet.
Researchers found that children in the lowest income bracket at age 5 years had a 2.0 increased relative risk of obesity and a 3.0 increased relative risk by age 11 years compared to children in the top income brackets.
Researchers considered a number of maternal health behaviors in the prenatal and infant periods, including smoking during pregnancy, duration of breastfeeding, and when infants were introduced to solid foods. The study also reviewed physical activity levels, including frequency of exercise, active playing with a parent, hours watching television, time spent on a computer, frequency of playground use, weekday bedtimes, whether the child regularly ate breakfast, fruit consumption, sweet drinks consumption, and maternal body mass index (BMI).
In addition to tying increased obesity prevalence to children in lower-income households, the study also found that children from lower-income households were more likely to have mothers who smoked; were not breastfed or breastfed for only a short time; were introduced to solid foods earlier; and had mothers with higher BMIs. Children in lower-income households also were less likely to play sports, engage in active play with a parent, use playgrounds or ride bikes, spent more time watching television and playing on computers, ate less fruit and did not have regular breakfasts, and did not adhere to regular or early bedtime routines.
Children on the early end of the spectrum were a little better off, according to the study, with children in the 5-year-old study group having more physical activity and less risk of being overweight than the 11-year-olds.
The study notes that in examining the risk factors for obesity across the cohort, income was not a prominent risk factor among 5-year-olds, but it was in the 11-year-old group.
The study authors also investigated trends that led to weight gain in children who were not overweight at age 5 years, but added weight by age 11 years. Research revealed that earlier bedtimes, and increased fruit consumption worked against weight gain, while maternal smoking and early introduction to solid foods were noted to contribute to weight gain over the years.