Childhood obesity and socioeconomic status: a novel role for height growth limitation

Int J Obes (Lond). 2005 Oct;29(10):1199-203. doi: 10.1038/sj.ijo.0803055.


Objective: To assess prevalence and socioeconomic context of overweight and obesity in a cohort of Scottish children.

Design: Cross-sectional study.

Setting: Primary schools in Dundee, Angus, and Fife, Eastern Scotland, UK.

Participants: A total of 1240 boys and 1214 girls aged between 4-10 y.

Main outcome measure: Weight, height and body mass index (weight/height2).

Results: Overall overweight or obesity prevalence was 24.6%, while prevalence of obesity alone was 6.1%. Individuals from schools with a high level of low-income families were 65% more likely to be overweight as judged by BMI. However, these children weighed the same as more affluent children of the same age, but were 1.26 cm shorter.

Conclusion: These data confirm the continued increase in childhood obesity in the UK and reveal a role for height-growth limitation in the absence of overall growth restriction, among children from low-income groups. This observation raises important questions regarding socioeconomic environmental factors in promoting the currently increasing levels of obesity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Body Height*
  • Body Mass Index
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cohort Studies
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Obesity / epidemiology*
  • Overweight
  • Prevalence
  • Scotland / epidemiology
  • Social Class*