Social class and changes in weight-for-height between childhood and early adulthood

Int J Obes. 1988;12(5):445-53.


The changes in weight-for-height of those from different social class backgrounds have been examined in the 1958 longitudinal study. Social class differences in the prevalence of overweight and obesity were found to be negligible in childhood but marked by early adulthood, with a greater percentage of overweight and obesity in lower social classes. This different was three-fold among obese men and two-fold among obese women when respondents were classified on the basis of their own occupation. However, a longer term effect of early class backgrounds also emerged. Children from manual backgrounds were more likely to become overweight and obese young adults (7 per cent of those with average weight-for-height at age 7) compared with their non-manual contemporaries (3 per cent). Interestingly, they were also more likely to remain overweight or obese through to early adulthood. Methods preventing weight gain in early life, whilst poorly developed at present, need to ensure that approaches are relevant to young people with lower social class backgrounds.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Body Height*
  • Body Weight*
  • Child
  • Child Development*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Obesity / etiology*
  • Risk Factors
  • Social Class*
  • United Kingdom