Quantifying Socioeconomic Inequality in Childhood Obesity

Laugwitz, Justus and Mitchell, Mark and Valdivieso Massa, Patricio (2020) Quantifying Socioeconomic Inequality in Childhood Obesity. Discussion paper. University of Strathclyde, Glasgow.

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We use longitudinal data on 11,000 UK-born children to examine the relationship between parentalweight and income and children’s overweight across childhood. We find that children are threetimes as likely to be overweight or obese at 14 if they have an obese parent. Irrespective of theirparents’ weight, children in the poorest 20% of families are twice as likely to be overweight orobese. These relationships persist through childhood, strengthen over time, and are imperviousto observed behavioural differences between groups. This suggests that differences in sharedsocial and economic circumstances across childhood lead to the emergence of stark inequality inchildhood obesity across the income distribution by age 14.