Children living in poorer neighborhoods are nearly 30 percent more likely to be obese than children in more affluent residences, according to a new study from Rice University.
The study by Rice sociologists Rachel Tolbert Kimbro, director of the Kinder Institute for Urban Research's Urban Health Program, and Justin Denney, associate director of the program, reveals that living in neighborhoods with higher levels of poverty and lower levels of education is associated with increased child obesity risk, regardless of family composition or other individual factors. The research also showed that living in neighborhoods with a higher proportion of foreign-born residents is associated with reduced child obesity risk.
The findings will appear in an upcoming issue of Social Science & Medicine.
The researchers based their conclusions on a comparison of 17,530 5-year-old children living in approximately 4,700 neighborhoods nationwide. They found that children in poorer neighborhoods have 28 percent higher odds of developing obesity, and those in middle-class neighborhoods have 17 percent higher odds, compared to children living in affluent neighborhoods; these statistics take into account such factors as household socioeconomic status, maternal education and how much television the child watches. The researchers also found that children living in neighborhoods with a high proportion of foreign-born residents had approximately 20 percent lower odds of obesity.
Childhood obesity is a significant public health issue, with 31.7 percent of children ages 2-19 overweight or obese, and there is much to be learned about how communities influence the epidemic, Denney said.
"We know there are characteristics specific to families and individual children that are associated with obesity," he said. "Those relationships are pretty well understood at this point, but less well understood are community influences, such as the social and demographic characteristics of the places people live. Neighborhood poverty is associated with childhood obesity above and beyond the poverty status of the child's family and other individual and family characteristics. This tells us there is something about the community that is also influencing childhood obesity."
Kimbro said that while it's clear that neighborhood characteristics matter for obesity risks, policies have not been as concerned with this information or efforts to alleviate the epidemic that's "grabbing hold of kids in this country."
"There are literally thousands of funded individual-level interventions in childhood obesity being tested right now," Kimbro said. "We believe they are well-meaning but possibly misdirected."
Kimbro hopes this study will encourage exploration of neighborhood programs to address risk factors for childhood obesity.
"There have to be individual-level interventions, but this paper shows that there is something going on at the community level that's clearly very important to address," she said.
Rice University: http://media.rice.edu
This press release was posted to serve as a topic for discussion. Please comment below. We try our best to only post press releases that are associated with peer reviewed scientific literature. Critical discussions of the research are appreciated. If you need help finding a link to the original article, please contact us on twitter or via e-mail.
The chytrid fungus has wiped out populations of amphibians around the world. A type of the fungus infects only salamanders, and researchers have identified vulnerable areas in North America.
NPR's Melissa Block speaks with the AP's Brazil bureau chief Brad Brooks about the investigation, which found high levels of dangerous viruses in water venues for the 2016 Summer Olympics.
Unusual clinical trial in Guinea offers promise for stopping epidemic
Researchers say study suggests need to target black men for screening of prostate cancer, which is projected to become the UK’s most common cancer by 2030 Black men in England have twice the lifetime risk of both being diagnosed with – and dying from – prostate cancer compared with white men, according to a study by Public Health England and Prostate Cancer UK.
MERS causes only mild symptoms in monkeys, so although the vaccine seemed to reduce their symptoms, it's hard to know if this will apply to humans as well
The World Health Organisation is doing its final checks and could declare Nigeria officially free of polio by September. Somalia could be next
Researchers in Hong Kong have cured infected monkeys of MERS using existing drugs
European Medicines Agency recommends RTS,S, or Mosquirix, developed by GSK and backed by Gates Foundation, for use in young children in Africa
Drought conditions in western states may be fueling the spread of this potentially deadly illness
Terminal cancer patients sometimes get chemotherapy in the belief that it will ease their symptoms. But a study finds many who get the treatment near death actually have a poorer quality of life.