Socio-economic inequalities and childhood obesity

Childhood overweight and obesity have significant short-term and long-term negative effects on children’s health and well-being. These challenges are unequally distributed according to socio-economic status (SES); however, previous studies often lacked standardized and objectively measured data in a national context to assess these differences. The current study, in which the associates of our Center also participated, provided a picture of the connection between SES and overweight and obesity of children, based on data from 123,487 children aged 6 to 9 in 24 countries in the European region of the World Health Organization (WHO). Overall, links were found between overweight / obesity and the three indicators used (parent education, parent employment status and family wealth). Our results showed a negative correlation between the prevalence of overweight / obesity in children and parental education in high-income countries, while the opposite relationship was observed in most middle-income countries. The same applied to family wealth, although parental employment status appears to be less related to overweight and obesity or not at all. This paper, published in the latest issue of Obesity Reviews, emphasizes the need to pay attention to context when designing interventions, as the association between SES indicators and overweight and obesity in children varies depending on the country’s economic development. Population-based interventions play an important role, but policies targeting specific SES groups are also needed to address inequalities.