Spatial Variations in Childhood Obesity: the school and neighbourhood geographies
Childhood obesity has increased dramatically over the past few decades, even more so in the last few years. This increase has finally reached pandemic levels in the developed world and is ever increasing in the developing world with no sign of it decreasing in the foreseeable future (Connelly et al., 2007; Wang & Lobstein, 2006). Current records show that overweight and obesity and its related co morbidities are the fifth leading risk for mortality, globally. Obesity substantially increases the risk of Type II diabetes, heart disease and certain cancers (WHO, 2009). As a result obesity has become a main concern for public health officials at a global scale (Herrick, 2007). Whilst it is known that obesity in its simplest form is due to increased consumption of food and decreased amounts of physical activity, it has been proposed that it is further increased by environmental rather than genetic factors (Hill & Peters, 1998). The overall aim of this paper is to analyse cross sectional data obtained from the National Child Measurement Programme. This gives data for 4-5 year olds and 10-11 year olds at school since 2006. Obesity will be defined using both the British Reference dataset and the International Obesity Task Force (IOTF) to allow for international comparison. The case study area is Wigan, Lancashire in the UK. This will allow for small scale analysis of environmental factors in relation to other indicators that determine obesity levels. Firstly it will enable us to map changing obesity levels at the small area level and then identify any areas that seem to be conforming to or resisting the obesogenic environment they are in. Further analysis will allow identification of areas which are showing obesity rates that contradict the results the environment suggests they should have, low obesity rates in low income areas (or indeed high obesity in areas of affluence). KEYWORDS Childhood Obesity, Obesogenic Environments, NCMP
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