Abstract 17505: The Relationship Between Childhood Obesity, Low Socioeconomic Status, and Race/ Ethnicity
Introduction: Previous studies have shown race/ethnicity, particularly African American and/or Hispanic status, to be a predictor of overweight/obese status in children. However, these studies have failed to adjust for low socioeconomic status (SES) and its profound effect on the prevalence of childhood obesity. We were interested in assessing whether race/ethnicity remained an independent driver of childhood obesity when accounting for variations in SES (low-income) among different communities in Massachusetts.
Methods: This study was based on summarized data from 68 Massachusetts school districts with 111,799 students in grades 1, 4, 7, and 10 from 2009. We studied the relationship between the rate of overweight/obese students (mean 0.32, range=0.10~0.46) and the rate of African American and Hispanic students (mean 0.17, range=0~0.90), and rate of low-income students (mean = 0.27, range=0.02~0.87) in 2 and 3 dimensions. The main effect of the race/ethnicity rate and the low-income rate and their interaction on the overweight and obese rate were investigated by multiple regression modeling.
Results: Low-income was highly associated with overweight/obese status (p<0.0001), whereas the effect of race/ethnicity (p=0.27) and its interaction (p=0.23) with low-income was not significant. For every 1% increase in low-income, there was a 0.063% increase in overweight and obese status. This general increasing pattern holds across all African American and Hispanic rates.
Conclusions: Overweight/obese status was highly prevalent among Massachusetts school children, varying from 10% to 45% across communities. While there were higher rates of overweight/obese status among African American and Hispanic students, the relationship disappeared when controlling for family income within each community. Our findings suggest that low SES plays a more significant role in the childhood obesity epidemic than race/ethnicity.
- © 2013 by American Heart Association, Inc.