Why are poorer children at higher risk of obesity? A U.K. cohort study

Yvonne Kelly, University College London
Alice Goisis, University College London

The prevalence of obesity in young children has increased over the past decades in many developed countries including the U.K. Prior work suggests that there are socioeconomic inequalities in the risk of child obesity, and that this begins in the preschool years. However, our understanding of why children from socially disadvantaged backgrounds appear at increased risk of obesity is limited, and few studies have identified potentially modifiable factors that if targeted could reduce inequalities. This represents a particular challenge for public health as in the context of lifelong health, we know that children who become obese in childhood are at higher risk of obesity throughout their lives. The aim of this study was to examine the contribution of family environmental risk factors to attenuate social inequalities in child obesity. To investigate whether influences are similar across childhood we assessed the role of risk factors at two age points: in early childhood at 5 years and at the cusp of adolescence at 11 years. To do this we used data from a large population based study, the Millennium Cohort Study.

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