Socioeconomic Status and Other Factors Associated with Childhood Obesity

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Abstract

Background:

Childhood obesity in the United States is a critical public health issue. Although multiple child and parental factors are associated with childhood obesity, few models evaluate how socioeconomic status influences these risk factors. We aimed to create a model to examine how socioeconomic status modifies risk factors for child obesity.

Methods:

We conducted a secondary data analysis of the Early Childhood Longitudinal Birth Cohort. Using logistic regression, we modeled childhood obesity status from known parental and child risk factors for childhood obesity and tested interactions with socioeconomic status.

Results:

Compared with healthy-weight children, socioeconomic status, race, birth weight, parental smoking, and not eating dinner as a family were associated with kindergarten-aged children being overweight or obese. Parental smoking increased the odds of a child being overweight or obese by 40%, and eating dinner as a family reduced the odds of a child being overweight or obese by 4%. In addition, black or Hispanic children had a 60% increased odds of being overweight or obese when compared with their white counterparts. Native American children had almost double the odds of being overweight or obese compared with white children. Socioeconomic status did not modify any of these associations.

Conclusion:

Parental smoking, birth weight, and not eating dinner as a family were two modifiable factors associated with overweight and obesity in kindergarten-age children, regardless of socioeconomic status. Changing these life-style factors could reduce the child's risk for obesity.

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