The Relationship between Childhood Obesity, Low Socioeconomic Status, and Race/Ethnicity

Lessons from Massachusetts

Robert Rogers, Taylor F. Eagle, Anne Sheetz, Alan Woodward, Robert Leibowitz, MinKyoung Song, Rachel Sylvester, Nicole Corriveau, Eva Kline-Rogers, Qingmei Jiang, Elizabeth A. Jackson, Kim A. Eagle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

31 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Background: Previous studies have shown race/ethnicity, particularly African American and/or Hispanic status, to be a predictor of overweight/obese status in children. However, these studies have failed to adjust for low socioeconomic status (SES). This study assessed whether race/ethnicity remained an independent predictor of childhood obesity when accounting for variations in SES (low-income) among communities in Massachusetts. Methods: This study was based on 2009 summarized data from 68 Massachusetts school districts with 111,799 students in grades 1, 4, 7, and 10. We studied the relationship between the rate of overweight/obese students (mean = 0.32; range = 0.10-0.46), the rate of African American and Hispanic students (mean = 0.17; range = 0.00-0.90), and the rate of low-income students (mean = 0.27; range = 0.02-0.87) in two and three dimensions. The main effect of the race/ethnicity rate, the low-income rate, and their interaction on the overweight and obese rate was investigated by multiple regression modeling. Results: Low-income was highly associated with overweight/obese status (p <0.0001), whereas the effect of race/ethnicity (p = 0.27) and its interaction (p = 0.23) with low-income were not statistically significant. For every 1% increase in low-income, there was a 1.17% increase in overweight/obese status. This pattern was observed across all African American and Hispanic rates in the communities studied. Conclusions: Overweight/obese status was highly prevalent among Massachusetts students, varying from 10% to 46% across communities. Although there were higher rates of overweight/obese status among African American and Hispanic students, the relationship disappeared when controlling for family income. Our findings suggest low SES plays a more significant role in the nation's childhood obesity epidemic than race/ethnicity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)691-695
Number of pages5
JournalChildhood Obesity
Volume11
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2015
Externally publishedYes

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Pediatric Obesity
Social Class
Students
Hispanic Americans
African Americans

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Nutrition and Dietetics

Cite this

The Relationship between Childhood Obesity, Low Socioeconomic Status, and Race/Ethnicity : Lessons from Massachusetts. / Rogers, Robert; Eagle, Taylor F.; Sheetz, Anne; Woodward, Alan; Leibowitz, Robert; Song, MinKyoung; Sylvester, Rachel; Corriveau, Nicole; Kline-Rogers, Eva; Jiang, Qingmei; Jackson, Elizabeth A.; Eagle, Kim A.

In: Childhood Obesity, Vol. 11, No. 6, 01.12.2015, p. 691-695.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Rogers, R, Eagle, TF, Sheetz, A, Woodward, A, Leibowitz, R, Song, M, Sylvester, R, Corriveau, N, Kline-Rogers, E, Jiang, Q, Jackson, EA & Eagle, KA 2015, 'The Relationship between Childhood Obesity, Low Socioeconomic Status, and Race/Ethnicity: Lessons from Massachusetts', Childhood Obesity, vol. 11, no. 6, pp. 691-695. https://doi.org/10.1089/chi.2015.0029
Rogers, Robert ; Eagle, Taylor F. ; Sheetz, Anne ; Woodward, Alan ; Leibowitz, Robert ; Song, MinKyoung ; Sylvester, Rachel ; Corriveau, Nicole ; Kline-Rogers, Eva ; Jiang, Qingmei ; Jackson, Elizabeth A. ; Eagle, Kim A. / The Relationship between Childhood Obesity, Low Socioeconomic Status, and Race/Ethnicity : Lessons from Massachusetts. In: Childhood Obesity. 2015 ; Vol. 11, No. 6. pp. 691-695.
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title = "The Relationship between Childhood Obesity, Low Socioeconomic Status, and Race/Ethnicity: Lessons from Massachusetts",
abstract = "Background: Previous studies have shown race/ethnicity, particularly African American and/or Hispanic status, to be a predictor of overweight/obese status in children. However, these studies have failed to adjust for low socioeconomic status (SES). This study assessed whether race/ethnicity remained an independent predictor of childhood obesity when accounting for variations in SES (low-income) among communities in Massachusetts. Methods: This study was based on 2009 summarized data from 68 Massachusetts school districts with 111,799 students in grades 1, 4, 7, and 10. We studied the relationship between the rate of overweight/obese students (mean = 0.32; range = 0.10-0.46), the rate of African American and Hispanic students (mean = 0.17; range = 0.00-0.90), and the rate of low-income students (mean = 0.27; range = 0.02-0.87) in two and three dimensions. The main effect of the race/ethnicity rate, the low-income rate, and their interaction on the overweight and obese rate was investigated by multiple regression modeling. Results: Low-income was highly associated with overweight/obese status (p <0.0001), whereas the effect of race/ethnicity (p = 0.27) and its interaction (p = 0.23) with low-income were not statistically significant. For every 1{\%} increase in low-income, there was a 1.17{\%} increase in overweight/obese status. This pattern was observed across all African American and Hispanic rates in the communities studied. Conclusions: Overweight/obese status was highly prevalent among Massachusetts students, varying from 10{\%} to 46{\%} across communities. Although there were higher rates of overweight/obese status among African American and Hispanic students, the relationship disappeared when controlling for family income. Our findings suggest low SES plays a more significant role in the nation's childhood obesity epidemic than race/ethnicity.",
author = "Robert Rogers and Eagle, {Taylor F.} and Anne Sheetz and Alan Woodward and Robert Leibowitz and MinKyoung Song and Rachel Sylvester and Nicole Corriveau and Eva Kline-Rogers and Qingmei Jiang and Jackson, {Elizabeth A.} and Eagle, {Kim A.}",
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T2 - Lessons from Massachusetts

AU - Rogers, Robert

AU - Eagle, Taylor F.

AU - Sheetz, Anne

AU - Woodward, Alan

AU - Leibowitz, Robert

AU - Song, MinKyoung

AU - Sylvester, Rachel

AU - Corriveau, Nicole

AU - Kline-Rogers, Eva

AU - Jiang, Qingmei

AU - Jackson, Elizabeth A.

AU - Eagle, Kim A.

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AB - Background: Previous studies have shown race/ethnicity, particularly African American and/or Hispanic status, to be a predictor of overweight/obese status in children. However, these studies have failed to adjust for low socioeconomic status (SES). This study assessed whether race/ethnicity remained an independent predictor of childhood obesity when accounting for variations in SES (low-income) among communities in Massachusetts. Methods: This study was based on 2009 summarized data from 68 Massachusetts school districts with 111,799 students in grades 1, 4, 7, and 10. We studied the relationship between the rate of overweight/obese students (mean = 0.32; range = 0.10-0.46), the rate of African American and Hispanic students (mean = 0.17; range = 0.00-0.90), and the rate of low-income students (mean = 0.27; range = 0.02-0.87) in two and three dimensions. The main effect of the race/ethnicity rate, the low-income rate, and their interaction on the overweight and obese rate was investigated by multiple regression modeling. Results: Low-income was highly associated with overweight/obese status (p <0.0001), whereas the effect of race/ethnicity (p = 0.27) and its interaction (p = 0.23) with low-income were not statistically significant. For every 1% increase in low-income, there was a 1.17% increase in overweight/obese status. This pattern was observed across all African American and Hispanic rates in the communities studied. Conclusions: Overweight/obese status was highly prevalent among Massachusetts students, varying from 10% to 46% across communities. Although there were higher rates of overweight/obese status among African American and Hispanic students, the relationship disappeared when controlling for family income. Our findings suggest low SES plays a more significant role in the nation's childhood obesity epidemic than race/ethnicity.

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