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Publication Date

April 2, 2018


Journal Article

Widening Socio-Economic Disparities in Early Childhood Obesity in Los Angeles County after the Great Recession

By Nobari T, Whaley S, Crespi C, Prelip M, Wang M


Objective: While economic crises can increase socio-economic disparities in health, little is known about the impact of the 2008–09 Great Recession on obesity prevalence among children, especially low-income children. The present study examined whether socio-economic disparities in obesity among children of pre-school age participating in a federal nutrition assistance programme have changed since the recession.

Design: A pre–post observational study using administrative data of pre-school-aged programme participants from 2003 to 2014. Logistic regression was used to examine whether the relationship between obesity prevalence (BMI≥95th percentile of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s growth charts) and three measures of socio-economic status (household income, household educational attainment, neighbourhood-level median household income) changed after the recession by examining the interaction between each socio-economic status measure and a 5-year time-period variable (2003–07 v. 2010–14), stratified by child’s age and adjusted for child’s sociodemographic characteristics.

Setting: Los Angeles County, California, USA.

Subjects: Children aged 2–4 years (n 1 637 788) participating in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children

Results: The magnitude of the association of household income and household education with obesity increased after 2008–09 among 3- and 4-year-olds and 2- and 3-year-olds, respectively. However, the magnitude of the association of neighbourhood-level median household income with obesity did not change after 2008–09.

Conclusions: Disparities in obesity by household-level socio-economic status widened after the recession, while disparities by neighbourhood-level socio-economic status remained the same. The widening household-level socio-economic disparities suggest that obesity prevention efforts should target the most vulnerable low-income children.

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Date Added
February 11, 2019

Nobari T, Whaley S, Crespi C, Prelip M, Wang M (2018) Widening Socio-Economic Disparities in Early Childhood Obesity in Los Angeles County after the Great Recession. Public Health Nutrition: Vol. 21, Issue 12, pp 2301-2310. Available online: https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/public-health-nutrition/article/widening-socioeconomic-disparities-in-early-childhood-obesity-in-los-angeles-county-after-the-great-recession/00786D37BD57B663CF173CDB1811166E