Big Kids: Are Middle Class Children More Likely to Be Fat?

Could an Adult Diabetes Drug Help Obese Teens Lose WeightA Leeds-based study has found that children are more likely to be obese if they come from middle-class areas. This is according to researchers from Leeds Metropolitan University, whose findings challenge the belief of many wellness experts that weight gain is a bigger problem among more ‘deprived’ children.

For the three-year study, which was published in the peer-reviewed International Journal of Obesity, the investigators looked at the link between a measure of area-level deprivation and three measures of fatness in children; body mass index (BMI), waist circumference and waist-to-height ratio. The study’s authors pointed out that previous research, that indicates the prevalence of obesity is highest in more deprived groups, is limited by the fact that it relies on individual levels of deprivation (such as household income), rather than area-level deprivation (the proportion of households in a local area or community that are above or below a threshold for household income).

The results of the study were that the three different measures of fatness provided difference statistics on the prevalence of obesity in the same 11 and 12 year-olds. Using BMI, the obesity levels were 18.6%, but they were 26.8% using waist circumference and 18.5% using waist-to-height ratio. The researchers also found no statistically significant linear relationship (a straight line on a graph) between area-level deprivation and obesity, but there was a non-linear pattern (more of a curve on a graph) between area-level deprivation and obesity across all three measures of fatness.

This meant that middle-class children were the most likely to be obese, whereas obesity was the least probably in those in the highest and lowest areas of deprivation. There was also a distinct difference in the obesity-deprivation relationship between boys and girls, and the risk of being obese for girls peaked much higher in the middle deprivation range than it did for boys. The researchers also discovered that ‘non-white’ children were more likely to be obese than ‘White-British’ children. Based on the results, the researchers concluded there ‘are inconsistencies between the different measures of obesity’ and that ‘the relationship between obesity and deprivation does not seem to be linear’.

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