Online Program

International comparisons of childhood obesity prevalence and income inequality in developed countries

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Naomi Ranz-Schleifer, MPH, Department of Health Behavior and Health Education, University of Michigan School of Public Health, Ann Arbor, MI
Overweight and obesity rates are rising among children and adults and are garnering significant attention worldwide in connection with rising chronic disease rates. Concurrently, more countries are experiencing growing income inequality, increasing negative health outcomes for those in poverty. The purpose of this study was (1) to determine the association between childhood obesity and income inequality and (2) to examine the relationship among childhood obesity prevalence, income inequality, adult obesity prevalence, socioeconomic status, household income, education, the built environment, and food access. This study used Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Health data sets from 1997-2011 to determine the association between childhood overweight and obesity rates (measured by age-adjusted BMI and percent prevalence) and income inequality (quantified by the GINI index) within OECD nations. Data collected from 29 OECD member countries between 1997-2011 resulted in a positive correlation (r = 0.61) between measured overweight prevalence and GINI coefficients. Existing literature of individual contributing factors was analyzed to provide support for the correlation between BMI and income inequality and to explain the interconnected and ongoing relationship between the two. Adult obesity, socioeconomic status, income inequality, household income, education, the built environment, and food access were all significantly predictive of childhood obesity rates. Analysis of these individual factors provides support and direction for policy and program implementation. Simultaneously, this study illuminates a need for more comprehensive and consistent collection of childhood obesity data both on a national as well as international scale to address this health concern.

Learning Areas:

Advocacy for health and health education
Chronic disease management and prevention
Public health or related education
Public health or related public policy

Learning Objectives:
Explain the relationship between childhood obesity prevalence and income inequality in developed countries. Identify key factors related to obesity and income inequality. Discuss avenues for policy and program implementation related to childhood obesity and income inequality.

Keyword(s): Child/Adolescent, Obesity

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have a degree in international relations with a focus on international health and as a public health master’s student I have researched child and adolescent obesity, both on a global and local scale. Currently, I am a research assistant for a childhood nutrition study focused on overweight and obese children. My present focus is on preventing and reducing childhood obesity rates through translational research and public policy.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.