Interaction between Parental Education and Household Wealth on Children's Obesity Risk

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2018 Aug 15;15(8):1754. doi: 10.3390/ijerph15081754.


Parents' education and household wealth cannot be presumed to operate independently of each other. However, in traditional studies on the impact of social inequality on obesity, education and financial wealth tend to be viewed as separable processes. The present study examines the interaction of parents' education and household wealth in relation to childhood obesity. Anthropometric measurement and questionnaire surveys were carried out on 3670 children (aged 9⁻12 years) and their parents from 26 elementary schools in northeast China. Results showed that the interaction term was significant for household wealth and father's education (p < 0.01), while no significant interaction between household wealth and mother's education was found. In a separate analysis, the interaction was statistically significant among girls for obesity risk based on BMI (p = 0.02), and among urban children for both obesity risk based on BMI (p = 0.01) and abdominal obesity risk based on WHR (p = 0.03). Specifically, when household wealth increased from the first quintile to the fifth quintile, OR for father's education decreased from higher than 1 (OR = 1.95; 95% CI: 1.12⁻3.38) to non-significant for girl's obesity risk, from non-significant to lower than 1 for urban children's obesity risk (OR = 0.52; 95% CI: 0.32⁻0.86 for the fourth quintile; OR = 0.37; 95% CI: 0.19⁻0.73 for the fifth quintile) and from higher than 1 (OR = 1.61; 95% CI: 1.04⁻2.05) to non-significant for urban children's abdominal obesity risk. These findings indicate that father's education level interacts with household wealth to influence obesity among girls and urban children in northeast China.

Keywords: childhood obesity; health inequalities; household wealth; parents’ education.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Body Mass Index
  • Child
  • China
  • Economic Status*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Parents / education*
  • Pediatric Obesity / epidemiology*
  • Risk Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires