Socio-economic, familial and perinatal factors associated with obesity in Sydney schoolchildren

J Paediatr Child Health. 2012 Jan;48(1):44-51. doi: 10.1111/j.1440-1754.2011.02181.x. Epub 2011 Oct 12.


Aim: To examine associations between socio-economic, familial and perinatal factors with overweight/obesity in 6- and 12-year-old schoolchildren.

Methods: Eligible year-1 (1765/2238, mean age 6.7 years) and year-7 students (2353/3144, mean age, 12.7 years) from a random cluster sample of 55 Sydney schools were examined during 2003-2005. Height, weight and body mass index were measured. Overweight or obesity was classified using International Obesity Task Force cut points. Information about each child's socio-demographic status, familial and perinatal information was sought in parental questionnaires.

Results: After multivariate adjustment, lower parental education was significantly associated with prevalent overweight and obesity in 6-year-old children, odds ratio (OR) 1.52 (95% confidence interval (CI) 1.15-2.01) and OR 2.16 (CI 1.34-4.13), respectively. Smoking during pregnancy was associated with a higher likelihood of being obese among both 6- and 12-year-old children, OR 1.90 (CI 1.05-3.46) and OR 1.78 (CI 1.22-2.61). Population attributable risk estimates indicate that 14.9% and 10.1% of prevalent cases of obesity in 12-year-old children may be attributable to being: an only child or a heavy newborn, respectively.

Conclusions: We show interdependent relationships between socio-economic, familial and perinatal factors and childhood weight status. Improved understanding of these pathways may help in developing childhood obesity prevention strategies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Body Mass Index
  • Child
  • Family Characteristics
  • Female
  • Health Behavior
  • Humans
  • Male
  • New South Wales / epidemiology
  • Obesity / epidemiology
  • Obesity / etiology*
  • Overweight / epidemiology
  • Overweight / etiology
  • Pregnancy
  • Risk Factors
  • Social Class*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Urban Population
  • Young Adult