A complex relationship between ethnicity, socio-economic status and the risk of child obesity/overweight in the UK

Melissa L. Martinson, University of Washington, Seattle
Alice Goisis, London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)
Wendy Sigle, London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)

A range of studies report a robust association between family socio-economic status and the prevalence of child obesity as children from poorer backgrounds are, on average, more likely to be obese than children from more advantaged families. However, some recent studies have suggested that the relationship between disadvantage and the prevalence of childhood obesity might be more complex than previously supposed. Studies in the U.S. have shown that for ethnic minority children the income gradient in child overweight/obesity is either non-existent or reversed, suggesting that we should be careful in assuming that higher socioeconomic status is protective (against obesity) for all groups of the population. In this paper, we aim to contribute to this emerging stream of research by analyzing these issues in the U.K., where research on this topic has been rather limited so far but where rates of obesity are particularly high for children of ethnic minority parents.

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Presented in Session 81: Child well-being, health and development