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.

ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Life and Style
A nurse tends to a recovering patient on a general ward at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham
health
News
science
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
News
Chuck Norris pictured in 1996
people
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Lucas, I SCREAM DADDIO, Installation View, British Pavilion 2015
artWhy Sarah Lucas is the perfect choice to represent British art at the Venice Biennale
News
A voter placing a ballot paper in the box at a polling station
i100
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
The Queen (Kristin Scott Thomas) in The Audience
theatreReview: Stephen Daldry's direction is crisp in perfectly-timed revival
Sport
football
  • Get to the point
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

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Dublin

    £13676.46 - £16411.61 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment Cons...

    Ashdown Group: Marketing or Business Graduate Opportunity - Norwich - £22,000

    £18000 - £22000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Business and Marketing Gr...

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

    £20000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...

    Ashdown Group: Database Analyst - Birmingham - £22,000 plus benefits

    £20000 - £22000 per annum + excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...

    Day In a Page

    General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
    General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

    On the margins

    From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
    Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

    'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

    Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
    Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

    Why patients must rely less on doctors

    Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
    Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

    Flesh in Venice

    Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
    11 best anti-ageing day creams

    11 best anti-ageing day creams

    Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
    Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

    Juventus vs Real Madrid

    Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
    Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

    Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

    Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power