4. Socio-Economic and demographic variations in overweight and obesity at age 10
Research on both child and adult overweight and obesity consistently demonstrates differences in rates among children with different socio-economic characteristics. For example, results from the 2016 Scottish Health Survey show that levels of overweight and obesity ranged from 33% and 32% amongst children living in areas in the two most deprived quintiles to around 25% for children living in less deprived areas (McLean et al, 2017). Previous analysis of GUS data has also borne out this trend. At age 6, 19% of children whose mother was degree educated were overweight or obese compared with 23% of children whose mother had qualifications up to Standard Grade or equivalent (Parkes et al, 2012).
This chapter will compare rates of overweight and obesity at ages 6, 8 and 10 according to sex and ethnicity and between children with different socio-economic backgrounds as measured by household income, parental level of education and area deprivation.
4.2. Key findings
- Between age 6 and age 10, rates of overweight and obesity increase similarly both for boys and girls, and for children of white and other ethnicities. For example, boys increased from 25% to 34%, girls from 23% to 34%. There were no significant differences in the proportion of children overweight/obese by sex or ethnicity.
- Increasing levels of overweight and obesity was also observed across all socio-economic sub-groups. For example, amongst children in the lowest income group overweight including obesity increased from 23% at age 6 to 36% at age 10 and for children in the highest income group from 20% to 29%.
- Children in more disadvantaged groups showed a greater increase in overweight including obesity with age than children in more advantaged groups. As a result, social inequalities in levels of overweight and obesity widen between ages 6 and 10.
4.3. Demographic variations in overweight/obesity
Differences in the proportion of children overweight including obese by sex and ethnicity at each age point are shown in Table 4‑1. In both instances, the data show a clear and similar increase in rates of overweight (including obese) both for boys and girls, and for children of white and other ethnicities. None of the differences between sub-groups at any age point are statistically significant.
Table 4‑1 Percent of children overweight (incl. obese) at age 6, 8 and 10 years by sex and ethnicity, household income, parental level of education and area deprivation
|Age 6||Age 8||Age 10|
|Unweighted bases – boys||1372||1400||1400|
|Unweighted bases – girls||1338||1352||1354|
|Unweighted bases – White||2617||2657||2660|
|Unweighted bases – Other ethnicity||91||93||92|
NS = Not statistically significant; * p <.05; ** p <.01; *** p<.001
4.4. Socio-economic variations in overweight/obesity
The increase in the proportion of children who were overweight including obese between ages 6 and 10 can also be observed across all socio-economic sub-groups (Table 4‑2). For example, rates of overweight (including obesity) increased amongst children in all income groups, including from 23% at age 6 to 36% at age 10 amongst the lowest income group and from 20% to 29% amongst the highest income group.
Notably, the rates of change between sub-groups appear to be different with children in more disadvantaged groups showing a greater increase in overweight including obesity with age than children in more advantaged groups. Amongst children living in areas in the least deprived quintile, for example, there is very little change in rates of overweight including obese – rising just 3 percentage points from 22% at age 6 to 25% at age 10. In contrast, the proportion of children living in areas in the most deprived quintile that were overweight including obese increased by 15 percentage points from 24% to 39%. The result is that inequalities in the prevalence of overweight including obesity already observed at age 6 persist and have widened markedly by age 10.
Table 4‑2 Percent of children overweight (incl. obese) at age 6, 8 and 10 years by household income, parental level of education and area deprivation
|% overweight including obese|
|Age 6||Age 8||Age 10|
|Equivalised household income||*||NS||**|
|Bottom Quintile (<£11,944)||23||29||36|
|2nd Quintile (>=£11,944 <£19,643)||29||30||37|
|3rd Quintile (>=£19,643 < £29,166)||26||29||35|
|4th Quintile (>=£29,166 < £37,500)||22||24||28|
|Top Quintile (>=£37,500)||20||25||29|
|Unweighted bases – bottom quintile||437||443||437|
|Unweighted bases – 2nd quintile||529||538||535|
|Unweighted bases – 3rd quintile||502||505||506|
|Unweighted bases – 4th quintile||549||556||563|
|Unweighted bases – 5th quintile||563||568||570|
|Highest parental level of education||**||***||***|
|Lower level Standard Grades and Vocational qualifications / other qualifications||29||37||45|
|Upper level Standard Grades and Intermediate Vocational qualifications||25||32||38|
|Higher grades and Upper level vocational qualifications||28||31||36|
|Degree level academic and vocational qualifications||19||22||26|
|Unweighted bases – No qualifications||82||86||85|
|Unweighted bases – Lower level Standard Grades||94||95||95|
|Unweighted bases – Upper level Standard Grades||418||419||419|
|Unweighted bases – Higher Grades etc||894||922||923|
|Unweighted bases – Degree level||1217||1225||1228|
|Area deprivation (quintiles)||NS||NS||***|
|1 Least deprived||22||24||25|
|5 Most deprived||24||31||39|
|Unweighted bases – Least deprived||664||681||687|
|Unweighted bases – 2||665||668||673|
|Unweighted bases – 3||547||557||553|
|Unweighted bases – 4||464||473||469|
|Unweighted bases – Most deprived||370||373||372|
NB: Income, education and area deprivation measured at age 6
* p <.05, ** p <.01. *** p<.001, NS = Not statistically significant
Email: Ewan Patterson