Childhood obesity 'still rising in poorer families'

The childhood obesity epidemic could be levelling off in affluent homes but rising among those from disadvantaged backgrounds, research suggests.

People who are less well off tend to be wary of health messages telling them what to do - regarding it as "nanny-statism", experts said.



They calculated that obesity levels among children are set to "increase considerably" overall by 2015, echoing trends seen in other research.



Last week, data on more than a million children, as part of the Government's National Child Measurement Programme, found almost one in four boys and more than one in five girls are overweight or obese at the start of their school life.



Another 35 per cent of boys and 31 per cent of girls in their last year of primary school also have weight problems, equating to almost one in three, the figures for England revealed.



They have hardly changed in the last few years, suggesting drives to cut obesity rates have not yet had an impact.



Today's study, published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, looked at a different dataset, taken from the Health Survey for England between 1995 and 2007.



Experts from University College London concluded that around one in 10 children will be obese by 2015.



They said the number of obese boys more than doubled between 1995 and 2007, from 3.1 per cent to 6.9 per cent, while among girls it rose from 5.2 per cent to 7.4 per cent.



In looking to the future, the experts said obesity rates will be 35 per cent to 50 per cent higher among boys from lower socio-economic backgrounds aged two to 10 than among those who are more affluent. Meanwhile, the rate will be 25 per cent to 35 per cent higher among girls.



The authors added that these rates are repeated in teenage boys aged 11 to 18, but are less pronounced among teenage girls.



They concluded: "If the trends in young obesity continue, the percentage and numbers of obese young people in England will increase considerably by 2015 and the existing obesity gap between manual and non-manual classes will widen further.



"This highlights the need for public health action to reverse recent trends and narrow social inequalities in health."



The widening socio-economic gap "may be partly due to difficulties to reach and communicate health messages to families from lower socio-economic groups," the authors suggested.



"Previous research shows higher socio-economic status groups tend to follow recommendations for health behaviours and respond more actively to health-related media messages than do those of lower socio-economic status.



"It is possible that the recent exponential increase in obesity and obesity-related (diet and physical activity) media messages has been received more positively by non-manual than by manual families.



"As lower socio-economic groups tend to be wary of measures and messages aimed at changing their lifestyle because they see these as 'nanny-statism' that erodes their autonomy, it is possible that policies targeting children's eating and physical activity habits have not have been perceived favourably by manual classes."



The experts said it may also be taking longer for obesity levels to stabilise among families of a lower socio-economic status than among more wealthy families.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
News
Johnny Handle, Northumberland, Ted Relph, President of Lakeland Dialect Society, and Sid Calderbank, Lancashire, founder of the National Dialect Day
newsMeet the enthusiasts determined to stop them dying out
News
The data shows that the number of “unlawfully” large infant classes has doubled in the last 12 months alone
i100Mike Stuchbery, a teacher in Great Yarmouth, said he received abuse
Arts and Entertainment
The starship in Star Wars: The Force Awakens
filmsThe first glimpse of JJ Abrams' new film has been released online
Sport
Rio Ferdinand returns for QPR
sportRio Ferdinand returns from his three-game suspension today
News
The Speaker of the House will takes his turn as guest editor of the Today programme
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
St Peter’s Seminary in Cardross. Argyll, has remained derelict for more than 25 years
arts + ents
News
people

Watch the spoof Thanksgiving segment filmed for Live!
Sport
Billy Twelvetrees will start for England against Australia tomorrow with Owen Farrell dropping to the bench
rugbyEngland need a victory against Australia today
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of The Guest Cat – expect to see it everywhere
books
Sport
Tyson Fury poses outside the Imperial War Museum in south London ahead of his fight against Dereck Chisora
boxingAll British heavyweight clash gets underway on Saturday night
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Opilio Recruitment: QA Automation Engineer

    £30k - 38k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: An award-winning consume...

    Opilio Recruitment: UX & Design Specialist

    £40k - 45k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: A fantastic opportunity ...

    Opilio Recruitment: Publishing Application Support Analyst

    £30k - 35k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: We’re currently re...

    Opilio Recruitment: Digital Marketing Manager

    £35k - 45k per year + benefits: Opilio Recruitment: A fantastic opportunity ...

    Day In a Page

    Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

    Christmas Appeal

    Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
    Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

    Is it always right to try to prolong life?

    Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
    Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

    What does it take for women to get to the top?

    Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
    Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

    Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

    Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
    French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

    French chefs campaign against bullying

    A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
    Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

    Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

    Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
    Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

    Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

    Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
    Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

    Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

    Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
    Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

    Paul Scholes column

    I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
    Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

    Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

    So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
    Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

    Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

    It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
    Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

    Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

    The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
    Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

    Sarkozy returns

    The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
    Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

    Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

    Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
    Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

    Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

    Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game