Canada Research Chair links income, exercise and breakfast to childhood obesity
Wendy Young, Canada Research Chair in Healthy Aging at Memorial University, has found that family income levels and whether a child eats breakfast are important determining factors in childhood obesity.
Young and her team studied a large population of Grade 7 children in Halton, Ontario, examining the association between body mass index (BMI) and individual risk factors such as physical activity and nutrition. They also looked at environmental risk factors (e.g., homes, schools, and the distance to places like parks and fruit and vegetable stores) as well as neighbourhood education levels.
The report comes as part of the Region of Halton’s evaluation of its Healthy Weights: Halton Takes Action initiative, aimed at reducing childhood obesity. Young and her team concluded that socio-economic status and an active lifestyle were still the most powerful predictors of healthy weight in children. Poverty had a negative impact on children’s weight, while eating breakfast helped a child maintain a healthy weight. The amount of time spent in front of an electronic screen also mattered.
However, regardless of socio-economic status or gender, the most significant predictor of lower BMI levels in the Grade 7 children was their active lifestyle score—a combined score of physical activity, lower screen time, and eating breakfast. BMI for girls was significantly lower than for boys (10.4 per cent of girls were overweight or obese, compared to 17.6 per cent of boys).
The full report is available on Memorial University’s School of Nursing website.