Decomposing socioeconomic inequalities in childhood obesity: evidence from Ireland

Econ Hum Biol. 2015 Jan:16:60-72. doi: 10.1016/j.ehb.2014.01.003. Epub 2014 Jan 25.


The objective of this paper is to quantify and decompose the socioeconomic gradient in childhood obesity in the Republic of Ireland. The analysis is performed using data from the first wave of the Growing Up in Ireland survey, a nationally representative survey of 8568 nine-year-old children conducted in 2007 and 2008. We estimate concentration indices to quantify the extent of the socioeconomic gradient in childhood obesity and undertake a subsequent decomposition analysis to pinpoint the key factors underpinning the observed inequalities. Overall the results confirm a strong socioeconomic gradient in childhood obesity in the Republic of Ireland. Concentration indices of obesity (CI=-0.168) and overweight/obese (CI=-0.057) show that the gradient is more pronounced in obese children, while results from the decomposition analysis suggest that the majority of the inequality in childhood obesity is explained by parental level variables. Our findings suggest that addressing childhood obesity inequalities requires coordinated policy responses at both the child and parental level.

Keywords: Childhood obesity; Concentration index; Decomposition; Ireland; Socioeconomic inequality.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Breast Feeding
  • Child
  • Diet
  • Exercise
  • Female
  • Health Behavior
  • Health Status
  • Health Status Disparities*
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Ireland / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Overweight / epidemiology
  • Pediatric Obesity / epidemiology*
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors