Last updated March 1, 2018 at 10:02 am
But US study finds widening gap in obesity between high and low income girls
Results from the latest tranche of the CDC’s National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), covering the years 2011 to 2014, show that in households headed by a college graduate, 9.6 per cent of kids were obese, while in households where parents had only high-school educations, the percentage rose to 21.6.
Broadly speaking, the pattern was similar in respect to household income, with a youth obesity rate of 10.9 per cent in high income families, rising to 18.9 per cent in the lowest cohort.
However, there were significant exceptions. Household income did not affect obesity rates among female non-Hispanic white or male non-Hispanic Asian youths, for instance.
Obesity rates jumps in young males, too
“Obesity prevalence decreased as head of household education increased in all subgroups examined,” writes CDC health statistician Cynthia Ogden.
“The prevalence of obesity was consistently lowest among children in households headed by college graduates, which differed from the pattern seen by income level.”
Comparing the results with those from previous NHANES surveys, Ogden and her colleagues found that since 1999 rates of obesity had increased among young women in low and middle income groups.
A decrease in the rate for high income youngsters was found to be “non-significant” but nevertheless was an added factor in a widening gap in obesity prevalence among high and low income girls.
Among young males, the picture was less clear, with rates jumping from 16.9 per cent in 1999 to 21 per cent in 2007-2010, before decreasing to 18.1 per cent in the latest results.
The findings, write the researchers, “demonstrate that lower levels of income are not universally associated with childhood obesity”. Differences in household education levels, in contrast, are consistent predictors.