childhood obesity and its correlation to social-economic background. The researchers argued that attention to childhood obesity focuses on genetic and environmental factors, and there is the increasingly prevalent belief that pediatric obesity may be a combination of both. Environmental factors can limit obesity but what — the researchers wondered – stimulated the influencing environmental factors
Previous study: What has the previous study found out?
A previous study that the researchers had conducted stipulated three prime factors that were environmentally responsible for obesity. These were: low weekly levels of moderate physical exercise, high levels of daily television viewing, and routine participation in a school lunch program.
The hypothesis of this study was that certain socio-economic backgrounds were more conducive for introducing these factors than were others in that — and this was their hypothesis – median household income influenced nutrition and recreational activities.
Investigation of this suggestion was the purpose of this article.
4. Methodology: what method did the author use?
The authors assessed body mass index in 109,634 Massachusetts children who were screened in 2009, identifying the percentage of children who were overweight and/or obese vs. The percentage of children in each community who resided in low-income homes.
The authors also compared activity patterns and diet in 999 sixth graders residing in 4 different Michigan communities with varying annual household income. Their hypothesis was that children living in towns on lower income would make poorer choices than those living in communities with more resources. A standardized questionnaire was used, calculated with ANOVA, and the percentage of obesity contrasted to response.
5. Result and discussion: Provide the statistics result then what they mean.
The results showed that in Massachusetts, the percentage of overweight or obese children by community varied from 9.6% to 42.8%. There was a definite positive correlation between household income and childhood obesity with obesity increasing with level of low income. With the Michigan sixth graders, for instance, frequency of fried food consumption per day doubled from 0.23 to 0.54 (P < .002), and daily TV/video time tripled from 0.55 to 2.00 hours (P < .001), whereas vegetable consumption and moderate/vigorous exercise consumption and moderate/vigorous exercise go down. This was clearly related to level of income. The probability significance of the consumption of fried food shows that there is a 2% chance that this finding is significant and is not happenstance. Watching of TV time had a lower but still significant occurrence.
Conclusions, in other words, showed that there was strong correlation between child’s income background and his or her lifestyle choices.
6. What are strengths of the research?
The strengths of the research are that the chosen population was enormously large and that populations were matched with all being studied from Project Healthy Schools so that one can conclude that it was not the schools that were responsible for obesity factor (since they all had same stress on health).
Limitations are that this was a self-report which means that students could unintentionally or otherwise distort response and response too could be misinterpreted. On the other hand, school nurses did record BMI of children which would have corrected for almost all deviant responses.
The limitations too depend on the way that one defines ‘low income’ as well as the fact that other conditions — aside from low income may have produced obesity. Some of these may be pressure from classmates, motivation and expertise of teachers in teaching and implementing health measures (poorer schools may be less well-paid), psychological factors (e.g. Parental divorce).
7. Own analysis
All the study shows at the end of the day is that the studied kids from low income families tended to eat less vegetables, indulged more in fried food, and exercised less than those in higher income families. It does not show why they were attracted to these factors in the first place — after all, children regardless of income have access to these factors. More so, there are many children, all around the globe, who come from extremely poor families (with lower income than those described in the study), who are slim. Other studies show children form high-income families who are, nonetheless, obese / overweight.
The fact, therefore, that this particular children studied are attracted to these factors may point to underlying reasons such as motivation for their particular teachers in conveying lessons, peer pressure, psychological problems, or numerous other factors.
The correlation may be there but it pertains just to Massachusetts and indicates correlation rather than causality.
Eagle, T. et al. (2012). Understanding childhood obesity in America: Linkages between household income, community resources, and children’s behaviors. The American Heart Journal, 163, 816-837.
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