You would think disadvantaged children are more likely to be thinner than more advantaged children. That was the case.
Now it seems, according to research out of Britain, disadvantaged children are typically more likely to be overweight or obese.
The observational study, published in the journal Lancet Public Health, followed children between 1953 and 2015 born in England, Scotland and Wales.
It used data from four birth cohort studies in 1946, 1958, 1970 and 2001.
In the paper, 22500 children were assessed at the age of 7 years old, 34873 were assessed at age 11, and 26128 were assessed at age 15.
It is the first study to separately analysed height and weight in efforts to disentangle the changes behind increasing body mass index.
At the ages of 7, 11 and 15 years old, the children’s height and weight were measured, and BMI was calculated.
Between 1953 to 2015, the difference in children’s BMI levels between the most and the least disadvantaged children expanded.
However, difference in children’s height has narrowed, and fewer disadvantaged children are now of short stature.
The trends highlight powerful influence that the obesogenic environment has had on socioeconomically disadvantaged children,
It also highlights how decades of policies to prevent obesity has failed.
“Our findings illustrate a need for new effective policies to reduce obesity and its socioeconomic inequality in children,” says lead author David Bann.
“Without effective interventions, childhood BMI inequalities are likely to widen further throughout adulthood, leading to decades of adverse health and economic consequences.”
“Our results illustrate a need for strong additional legislative changes that focus on societal factors and the food industry, rather than individuals or families.
“Bold action is needed, such as creating further incentives for food manufacturers to reduce sugar and fat content in food and drinks, reduce the advertising of unhealthy foods to children and families, and incentivise the sale of healthier alternatives.”