A new study, for the first time, maps the complex pathways that lead to obesity in childhood, and it finds that focusing on quick fixes like diet and exercise programs alone won’t stem the tide of childhood obesity.
Children from low-income families and those living in areas of social disadvantage, as identified by the study led by the Charles Perkins Centre at the University of Sydney, are more likely to be overweight or obese in middle school. Completion of high school is a reliable predictor of future success in life.
Data from “Growing up in Australia: The Longitudinal Study of Australian Children,” a nationally representative sample of more than 10,000 Australian Children, were used for the study published in BMC Medicine.
What researchers found: “Childhood obesity is largely a function of socio-economic status, which is manifest through numerous downstream factors. Parental high school levels entangle with socio-economic status, and hence, are on-ramp to childhood obesity. The strong and independent causal relationship between birth weight and childhood BMI suggests a biological link.”
“Our study implies that interventions that improve the socio-economic status, including through increasing high school completion rates, may be effective in reducing childhood obesity prevalence.”