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Title: The role of energy balance related behaviors in socioeconomic inequalities in childhood body mass index : a comparative analysis of Germany, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and the United States
Author(s): De la Rie, Sanneke
Washbrook, Elizabeth
Perinetti Casoni, Valentina
Waldfogel, JaneLook up in the Integrated Authority File of the German National Library
Jiyoon Kwon, Sarah
Dräger, JaschaLook up in the Integrated Authority File of the German National Library
Schneider, ThorstenLook up in the Integrated Authority File of the German National Library
Olczyk, MelanieLook up in the Integrated Authority File of the German National Library
Boinet, Césarine
Keizer, Renske
Issue Date: 2023
Type: Article
Language: English
Abstract: Socioeconomic inequalities in childhood Body Mass Index (BMI) are becoming increasingly more pronounced across the world. Although countries differ in the direction and strength of these inequalities, cross-national comparative research on this topic is rare. This paper draws on harmonized longitudinal cohort data from four wealthy countries—Germany, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom (UK), and the United States (US)—to 1) map cross-country differences in the magnitude of socioeconomic inequalities in childhood BMI, and 2) to examine cross-country differences in the role of three energy-balance-related behaviors—physical activity, screen time, and breakfast consumption—in explaining these inequalities. Children were aged 5–7 at our first timepoint and were followed up at age 8–11. We used data from the German National Educational Panel Study, the Dutch Generation R study, the UK Millennium Cohort Study and the US Early Childhood Longitudinal-Kindergarten Study. All countries revealed significant inequalities in childhood BMI. The US stood out in having the largest inequalities. Overall, inequalities between children with low versus medium educated parents were smaller than those between children with high versus medium educated parents. The role of energy-balance-related behaviors in explaining inequalities in BMI was surprisingly consistent. Across countries, physical activity did not, while screen time and breakfast consumption did play a role. The only exception was that breakfast consumption did not play a role in the US. Cross-country differences emerged in the relative contribution of each behavior in explaining inequalities in BMI: Breakfast consumption was most important in the UK, screen time explained most in Germany and the US, and breakfast consumption and screen time were equally important in the Netherlands. Our findings suggest that what constitutes the most effective policy intervention differs across countries and that these should target both children from medium as well as low educated families.
Open Access: Open access publication
License: (CC BY 4.0) Creative Commons Attribution 4.0(CC BY 4.0) Creative Commons Attribution 4.0
Journal Title: Social science & medicine
Publisher: Elsevier Science
Publisher Place: Amsterdam [u.a.]
Volume: 317
Original Publication: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2022.115575
Appears in Collections:Open Access Publikationen der MLU

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