Socio-economic differentials in early childhood growth trajectories

Beth Stuart, University of Southampton
Lidia Panico, Institut National d'Études Démographiques (INED)

The dynamic processes that drive the development of childhood overweight and obesity are not completely understood. By age 5, over 20% of British children are already classed as overweight or obese. Therefore, early childhood growth may be important in understanding recent increases in childhood overweight. In this paper, we identify latent trajectories of early childhood growth from infancy through age 11, and we examine the interplay between these trajectories and the changing socio-economic context. Using the Millennium Cohort Study, a representative birth cohort of 19,244 UK children born in 2000-2002, and two different but complementary methods (Longitudinal Latent Class methods and Latent growth mixture), we aim to: 1) fit latent overweight/obese and BMI trajectories throughout childhood; and 2) to examine socio-demographic predictors of these trajectories. Early analyses suggest that lower socio-economic categorization at 9 months increases the odds of membership of the “obese” group in the LCA analyses, and the "increasing BMI" group in the Latent Trajctories analyses, but does not appear to be associated with the other latent groups. Future work will extent analyses to age 11 (data to be released imminently), and will use a fuller set of socio-economic markers, including exploring such markers in a longitudinal context. Such work will highlight whether the early years are a significant period during which growth patterns are established and therefore whether they are an attractive window to intervene to modify future risk of overweight.

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Presented in Session 38: Child well-being, health and development