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What money can buy: Family income and childhood obesity

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  • Jo, Young

Abstract

This paper investigates the relationship between family income and childhood obesity. Using the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Kindergarten Class of 1998-99 (ECLS-K), I report three new findings. First, family income and childhood obesity are generally negatively correlated, but for children in very low-income families, they are positively correlated. Second, the negative association between family income and Body Mass Index (BMI) is especially strong and significant among high-BMI children. Third, the difference in obesity rates between children from low- and high-income families increases as children age. This study further investigates potential factors that might contribute to a rapid increase in the obesity rate among low-income children. I find that their faster weight gain, rather than slower height growth, is a greater contributor to the rapid increase in their BMI over time. On the other hand, I also find that the faster weight gain by low-income children cannot be attributed to any single factor, such as participation in school meal programs, parental characteristics, or individual characteristics. These findings add to the current obesity debate by demonstrating that the key to curbing childhood obesity may lie in factors generating different obesity rates across income levels.

Suggested Citation

  • Jo, Young, 2014. "What money can buy: Family income and childhood obesity," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 15(C), pages 1-12.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ehbiol:v:15:y:2014:i:c:p:1-12
    DOI: 10.1016/j.ehb.2014.05.002
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    Cited by:

    1. Antelo, Manel & Magdalena, Pilar & Reboredo, Juan C., 2017. "Obesity: A major problem for Spanish minors," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 24(C), pages 61-73.

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    Keywords

    BMI; Obesity; Children; Income;

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