A London study has found that poorer children are almost three times more likely to be obese than their better-off peers.
Experts at University College London and the London School of Economics used data tracking nearly 20,000 families from across the UK. The study used measurements made when the children were aged 5 and again at age 11.
At age 5, poor children were almost twice as likely to be obese compared with their better off peers. 6.6% of children from families in the poorest fifth of the sample were obese while the figure for the richest fifth is just 3.5%. By the age of 11 the gap has widened, nearly tripling to 7.9% of the poorest fifth are obese; for the best-off, the figure is 2.9%.
The report looked at a number of lifestyle factors such as diet, exercise, and whether a mother smoked or breastfed their child.
Senior author Professor Yvonne Kelly explained:
"intervening in the early years when the family environment has more profound influences on children's healthy development has the potential to be particularly effective."
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