Economic Reform, Widening Income Disparity between Higher and Lower Socioeconomic Groups and the Increasing Child Overweight/Obesity Gap by Socioeconomic Status in China, 1991-2006

Wei He, Duke University
Sherman James, Duke University
Hui Zheng, Ohio State University

The greater burden of being overweight is shifting from the upper to the lower social classes in a few developing nations. Guided by the framework of previous studies, this article analyzes the socieconomic forces operating in China over the past three decades that have been shaping the SES gradients in child overweight/obesity. SES gaps in access to high energy density diets, the penetration of obesogenic environments, general awareness and incentives to prevent overweight/obesity are investigated as potential predictors of how SES factors affect rates of child overweight/obesity in China. Using CHNS data, we estimated GEE models and found an increasing SES gap, especially after 1997, in the prevalence of child overweight/obesity with the increasing gap in purchasing power playing a prominent role. SES gaps in knowledge about obesity and health promotion behaviors, also identified, call for comprehensive interventions that could address the obesogenic environment and help bridge these gaps.

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Presented in Poster Session 1