Obesity refers to a medical condition characterized by build-up of excess fat around the body tissues. Such a condition threatens the body health. Obesity results in various health complications that can significantly reduce one’s life expectancy. Intriguing is the fact that incidences of obesity are rampant. Obesity does not spare age and sex; it is prevalent among children as well as adults. There are various factors that lead to obesity. For instance, the condition has been associated with lack of a balanced diet, limited physical exercises and genetics. However, it is not uncommon for those that observe balanced diet and exercise to be obese. Additionally, those that have closely studied the genetic factors have noticed the existence of the disparities. More focus has further been directed to the link between socioeconomic status and obesity prevalence. This paper summarizes the article by Knai, Lobstein, Darmon, Rutter & McKee (2012) studing the link between childhood obesity and socioeconomic status.
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Knai, Lobstein, Darmon, Rutter & McKee (2012) begin by acknowledging the increase in the disparities among children in Europe. They proceed to explore the link between socioeconomic status and obesity. They carry out a cross-country analysis on the relationship between the two variables and they also seek to establish the evidence on the trend of overweight disparities between the socioeconomic states by drawing literature reviews. In the studies reviewed, there are four revealed increasing disparities between the high income families and the low income families. On the other hand, three studies showed insignificant growing differences between the social economic strata. There was no study that revealed decreasing overweight disparities between the socioeconomic strata. They infer that low socio-economic states are the major cause of obesity.
They sought to establish the factors contributing to the widening economic disparities. Although being overweight may be caused by behavioral and biological risks, the researchers note that it may be exacerbated by the limited socio-economic capacity. Moreover, the relationships between the variables are often perceived as being complex and intergenerational, and are likely the root-cause of the parental risks factors. Indeed, they concur that parental factors are considered as one of the risk factors that particularly lead to obesity. Additionally, the weight of the mother is perceived to have a significant impact on the weight outcome of a child. For instance, a pregnant obese mother is likely to bear and raise an obese child, considering the mechanisms that underlie in Utero-programming.
Behavioral factors such as smoking during pregnancy largely increase the chances of childhood obesity. A social disparity in smoking has been particularly pronounced during the pregnancy’s third trimester. On the other hand, smoking among women in the low socio-economic strata increased significantly between 1995 and 2003. This was not the case among women with high incomes. Additionally, mothers who are socially and economically limited are less likely to breastfeed compared to those from the high income families. Mothers with relatively low incomes are likely to introduce cow’s milk to the new born babies. Considering that breastfeeding prevents children from childhood obesity, limited breastfeeding may result in obesity.
Other correlates of low socio-economic status include non-healthy eating and stress. People consume food without considering the number of calories in the foods. Moreover, some underestimate the amount of calories in their diets. A large population of poor people is now consuming these kinds of foodstuffs. The level of stress and depression cases has drastically increased among the poor people. These positively correlate with the drastic increase in the prevalence of obesity. The appetite for food increases when people are stressed. For instance, stressed persons are unable to come up with an appropriate choice of diet that suits them. As if not enough, children who are limited socio-economically have limited access to desirable healthcare services. Thus, Knai, Lobstein, Darmon, Rutter & McKee (2012) conclude that in the cases where evidences of widening disparities are clear, cases of childhood obesity have also been observed as the correlate. In this regard, Knai, Lobstein, Darmon, Rutter & McKee (2012) go ahead to recommend that environmental, as well as social and economic interventions are dire in curbing childhood obesity, both in the current and future generations.
In conclusion, the study by Knai, Lobstein, Darmon, Rutter & McKee (2012) sought to establish the relationship between obesity and socio-economic status, and the link between the widening socio-economic disparities, as far as overweight cases are concerned. They found out that childhood obesity prevalence correlates with the socio-economic state. The increasing disparities between the poor and the rich also correlate with the increasing overweight disparities. In this regard, environmental, as well as social and economic interventions are dire in curbing childhood obesity.
Knai, C., Lobstein, T., Darmon, N., Rutter, H., & McKee, M. (2012). Socio-economic Patterning of Childhood Overweight Status in Europe. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 9:1472-1489. Web.