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Children (Basel). 2018 Jun 10;5(6). pii: E73. doi: 10.3390/children5060073.

Family Income Reduces Risk of Obesity for White but Not Black Children.

Assari S1,2,3,4.

Author information

1
Department of Psychology, University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA. assarish@ucla.edu.
2
BRITE Center, University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA. assarish@ucla.edu.
3
Center for Research on Ethnicity, Culture and Health, School of Public Health, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA. assarish@ucla.edu.
4
Department of Psychiatry, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA. assarish@ucla.edu.

Abstract

Background: Although the protective effects of socioeconomic status (SES) on obesity and cardiovascular disease are well established, these effects may differ across racial and ethnic groups. Aims: Using a national sample, this study investigated racial variation in the association between family income and childhood obesity in White and Black families. Methods: This cross-sectional study used data from the National Survey of Children’s Health (NSCH), 2003⁻2004, a nationally representative survey in the United States. This analysis included 76,705 children 2⁻17 years old who were either White (n = 67,610, 88.14%) or Black (n = 9095, 11.86%). Family income to needs ratio was the independent variable. Childhood obesity was the outcome. Race was the focal moderator. Logistic regression was used for data analysis. Results: Overall, higher income to needs ratio was protective against childhood obesity. Race, however, interacted with income to needs ratio on odds of childhood obesity, indicating smaller effects for Black compared to White families. Race stratified logistic regressions showed an association between family income and childhood obesity for White but not Black families. Conclusions: The protective effect of income against childhood obesity is smaller for Blacks than Whites. Merely equalizing population access to SES and economic resources would not be sufficient for elimination of racial disparities in obesity and related cardiovascular disease in the United States. Policies should go beyond access to SES and address structural barriers in the lives of Blacks which result in a diminished health return of very same SES resources for them. As the likely causes are multi-level barriers, multi-level interventions are needed to eliminate racial disparities in childhood obesity.

KEYWORDS:

Blacks; body mass index; ethnic groups; ethnicity; income; obesity; socioeconomic status

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