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Disparities in Obesity Rates Seen Among U.S. Adolescents

From 1999 to 2018, increasing prevalence of teen obesity associated with low-income households, lower education level for head of household

WEDNESDAY, June 22, 2022 (HealthDay News) — Socioeconomic disparities in obesity prevalence grew from 1999 to 2018 among U.S. adolescents, according to a research letter published online June 21 in JAMA Pediatrics.

Ryunosuke Goto, M.D., from the University of Tokyo Hospital, and colleagues used data from the 1999 to 2018 U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys to examine obesity trends among U.S. teens (aged 10 to 19 years) by socioeconomic status (SES).

The researchers found that the trend in adjusted obesity prevalence increased over 20 years, particularly among adolescents from low-SES households. There was a 4.2-percentage point increase in obesity prevalence associated with living in a low-income household. Lower head-of-household education level was associated with a 9.0-percentage point increase in obesity prevalence. For 2015 to 2018 versus 1999 to 2002, the gap in obesity prevalence between adolescents from low-income households versus others grew 6.4 percentage points. Similar trends were seen for head-of-household education. Every four years, the gap in obesity prevalence by income and education increased by an average of 1.5 and 1.1 percentage points, respectively.

“The larger obesity prevalence among adolescents from lower-SES households may exacerbate socioeconomic disparities in chronic diseases into adulthood,” the authors write.

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