November 12, 2012
Children living in poorer neighborhoods are nearly 30 percent more likely to be obese than children in more affluent residences, according to a new study from Rice University.
The study by 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, reveals that living in neighborhoods with higher levels of poverty and lower levels of education is associated with increased child obesity risk, regardless of family composition or other individual factors. The research also showed that living in neighborhoods with a higher proportion of foreign-born residents is associated with reduced child obesity risk.
The findings will appear in an upcoming issue of Social Science & Medicine. The researchers based their conclusions on a comparison of 17,530 5-year-old children living in approximately 4,700 neighborhoods nationwide. They found that children in poorer neighborhoods have 28 percent higher odds of developing obesity, and those in middle-class neighborhoods have 17 percent higher odds, compared to children living in affluent neighborhoods; these statistics take into account such factors as household socioeconomic status, maternal education and how much television the child watches. The researchers also found that children living in neighborhoods with a high proportion of foreign-born residents had approximately 20 percent lower odds of obesity.