Poverty a major risk factor for childhood obesity | Latest news for doctors, nurses and pharmacists

According to a recent study, poverty status appears to be an important predictor of obesity risk in children.

This prospective cohort analysis included 1,240 children, 87.34% of whom belonged to families living at or above the poverty line. Similarly, the majority of families lived together (86.17%) and showed no signs of maternal depression (83.55%). Most of the children were boys (51.05%) and had difficult tempers (62.44%). [Sci Rep 2022;12:15666]

At 24 months, 5.6% and 15.6% of children were obese and overweight, respectively. These proportions increased steadily as the children aged, reaching 6.3% and 18.6% at 36 months and 9.3% and 24.7% at 54 months, respectively.

Body mass index (BMI) continued to increase after participants entered school. During the first year, 11.7% and 25.3% were obese and overweight, respectively. These corresponding rates peaked at 19.5% and 33.9% in grade 5. By the ninth grade, about age 15, 15.5% were obese while 31.0% were overweight.

Generalized estimating equation models were then constructed to identify factors associated with childhood obesity.

In crude analyses, researchers found that poverty level and family structure were important determinants of body mass index in children. In particular, children who were part of families that did not live together were nearly 80% more likely to be obese than their peers in families that lived together (odds ratio [OR]1.78, 95% confidence interval [CI]1.27–2.51).

Meanwhile, falling below the poverty line more than doubled the likelihood of childhood obesity (OR, 2.15, 95% CI, 1.53–3.01).

However, after adjusting for confounders such as all family and individual factors, as well as child birth and demographic characteristics, only living below the poverty line remained a significant correlate of poverty. obesity, increasing this probability by more than 60% (OR, 1.63, 95 percent CI, 1.05–2.53).

In contrast, maternal depression, maternal sensitivity to child, child temperament, and type of childcare used were not linked to childhood obesity.

“The findings underscore the importance of system-level public health changes in obesity reduction efforts and suggest that prevention and intervention based on poverty reduction are likely more effective targets than more effective targets. specific to individuals/families,” the researchers said.

In the study, aAll participants were from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development’s Early Childhood Care and Development Study. Childhood obesity was defined according to the standards of the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, while the level of poverty was measured according to the income level of the family according to its size and needs. Appropriate interviews and questionnaires were used to assess family structure and related variables.

“In the future, more longitudinal studies of child poverty and its risk of obesity throughout childhood and adolescence are needed, with the aim of exploring the critical periods of childhood and of adolescence during which poverty may have a greater influence on incident obesity and to identify the mechanisms by which poverty influences obesity risk,” the researchers said.

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