Exploring the relationship between childhood obesity and socioeconomic factors in South Africa : a secondary analysis of the national income dynamics study data.
Mzobe, Yoliswa Nokwazi.
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The upsurge of childhood obesity brings forth potential chronic illness complications thus threatening the health of the young generation. Previously, studies showed that higher rates of childhood obesity were among groups of higher socioeconomic status. Studies have shown that health status does not exist in a vacuum but rather is an integral part of socioeconomic factors. Socioeconomic status plays a crucial role in relation to health. However, there is an existing gap in literature - specifically in relation to childhood obesity. This study aimed to address this gap by looking at the relationship between childhood obesity (broken down into body mass index) and socioeconomic factors among children aged 5-12 years. The findings of the study exhibit a significant relationship between childhood obesity and socioeconomic factors among 5-12 year old boys and girls in South Africa. Children residing in urban areas had the highest rates of obesity whilst children residing in rural areas had the lowest rates. This calls for the need for further exploration of the kind of lifestyle led by children in urban areas. This is indicative of the need for children’s nutritional assessment among urban and rural areas in order to take steps towards combating obesity in young children. The highest rates were observed in the 5-year-old age group (boys and girls), and peaked for girls 10-years of age at 20%. On the contrary, underweight rates were highest for boy’s 5-years of age and highest for girls at age 12. The highest rates of obesity were seen in the African population group, important to note that response rates in the survey were also highest in this population group and lowest among the White and Indian/Asian population groups. Findings of this study point to the urgent requirement for policy makers to address the nutritional intake of children, especially in the 5-year-age category. There is also a need for researchers to think of ways of involving the White and Indian/Asian population group in surveys in order to gain more accuracy on the extent of existing issues, or lack thereof in these population groups.