Abstract 14169: Understanding Childhood Obesity in America: Linkages Between Household Income, Community Resources, and Children's Behaviors
Background Childhood obesity is our nation's most pressing health problem. Understanding its causes is critical to the creation of strategies to improve our children's health.
Study Questions What is the association between childhood obesity and household income? How does household income effect childhood behaviors that promote childhood obesity?
Methods We assessed BMI in 109,634 children screened in Massachusetts public schools in 2009. We identified the percentage of children who were overweight/obese and compared this to the percentage of children in each community who reside in low income homes. We compared activity patterns, and diet in a cohort of 999 sixth graders residing in four Michigan communities which differed in annual household income. We compared these behavioral/patterns using one-way analysis of variance.
Results In Massachusetts, overall percent of overweight/obese by community varied from 9.6% to 42.8. As a community's average household income dropped, the percent of children overweight/obese rose, becoming 35-45% when more than 20% of households were low income (figure). In Michigan sixth graders, as mean household income goes down, fried food consumption per day doubles from 0.23 to 0.54 (p<0.002), and daily TV/video time triples from 0.55 hours to 2.00 hours (p<0.001) while vegetable consumption and participation in moderate or vigorous exercise goes down.
Conclusions The incidence of overweight/obese children rises in communities with lower household income. Children residing in lower income communities exhibit poorer dietary and physical activity behaviors, which affects the incidence of obesity. Reducing childhood obesity in America will require education for each child and family and community-wide collaboratives offering better nutritional choices, and access to recreational facilities and programs.
- © 2011 by American Heart Association, Inc.