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.
You can learn a lot about people if you mess with their minds. Here are four infamous experiments in which psychologists gave in to unethical temptations
The number of people without enough to eat has fallen rapidly over the past 25 years, but sub-Saharan Africa and parts of Asia are still struggling
New research raises serious questions about how artificial sweeteners might affect our bodies, but let's keep our cool and just do more research
Do you want to be a lab rat? That's what teenagers are doing when they smoke marijuana, the state of Colorado says. But since hard evidence of marijuana's harms is scanty, it may be a tough sell.
Caitlin Doughty has been cutting pacemakers out of corpses, grinding human bones by hand, and loading bodies into cremation chambers for seven years. But the 30-year-old mortician doesn't want to keep all the fun to herself: She thinks the rest of us should get to have a little more face time with the deceased.
A trial of an experimental vaccine against the Ebola virus is to begin in Oxford.
A simple urine test for the virus that causes cervical cancer could offer a less invasive and more acceptable alternative to the conventional cervical smear test, researchers said on Tuesday.
President Barack Obama and U.S. Senate commit to help West Africa wallop the virus
Many airlines don't want to have their crews overnight in an Ebola area or send them to a place where they can't get adequate health care if something goes wrong.
“Sic semper tyrannis,” Brutus supposedly yelled as he helped assassinate Julius Caesar: Thus always to tyrants. John Wilkes Booth exclaimed the same to the panicked crowd in Ford’s Theater after he shot Lincoln. And in dark underground burrows in east Africa, I’m willing to bet the homely yet somehow charming naked mole rat is yelling