Researcher from Rice University found that children living in poorer neighborhoods were at almost a 30 percent higher risk for becoming obese than children who were living in high-class neighborhoods. Another factor contributing to obesity risk was lower levels of education. The study did not investigate factors such as family composition or individual features.
Rice sociologists Rachel Tolbert Kimbro, director of the Kinder Institute for Urban Research's Urban Health Program, and Justin Denney, associate director of the program, investigated data collected on 17,530 children that were age 5. These children lived in 4,700 different neighborhoods nationwide. The researchers used factors such as socioeconomic status, maternal education, and television watching time to help determine their results.
Denney explained that 31.7 percent of the children between the age of 2 and 19 were either obese or overweight. There has been more research conducted on families and individuals; this has improved their understanding of the risk factors. In this study, Denney and Kimbro wanted to investigate how a community could influence childhood obesity rates.
The researchers found that the children living in the poorest neighborhoods were at a 28 percent increased risk for developing obesity compared to the high-class neighborhood children. The middle class children were at a 17 percent increased risk of developing obesity compared to the high-class neighborhood children. However, a poorer neighborhood that had a higher ratio of foreign-born residents demonstrated a 20 percent reduced obesity risk for children.The study results will be published in the next issue of Social Science & Medicine.