Study Finds Early Life Risk Factors Can Determine Disparities in Childhood Obesity

Childhood obesity is more prevalent in children with racial and ethnic disparities, and may be determined by risk factors in infancy and early childhood, according to a study published June 3 in JAMA Pediatrics.

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The study looked at 1,116 mother-child pairs, of which 63 percent were white, 17 percent were black and four percent were Hispanic. Results showed that black (0.48 U [95 percent confidence interval [CI], 0.31 to 0.64]) and Hispanic (0.43 [0.12 to 0.74]) children had higher body-mass index (BMI) z scores. In addition, their total mass index and overweight/obesity prevalence were found to be higher than that of white children.

Although the BMI z scores were higher in black and Hispanic children, the study found that BMI was reduced for black and Hispanic children when adjustments were made for socioeconomic confounder and parental BMI. However, this change was not seen when adjustments for pregnancy risk factors were made. Additionally, the study found that at age seven, overweight and obesity among black and Hispanic children was almost double that of white children.

"Many early life risk factors for childhood obesity are more prevalent among blacks and Hispanics than among whites and may explain the higher prevalence of obesity among racial/ethnic minority children," the authors note. They conclude that findings "suggest that racial/ethnic disparities in childhood obesity may be explained by factors operating in infancy and early childhood and that eliminating these factors could eliminate the disparities in childhood obesity."

Keywords: Child, Prevalence, Body Mass Index, Overweight, Pediatric Obesity, European Continental Ancestry Group, Risk Factors, Obesity, Confidence Intervals, Hispanic Americans

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