Global Patterns in Overweight among Children and Mothers in Less Developed Countries

Jennifer Van Hook, Pennsylvania State University
Claire Altman, Pennsylvania State University
Kelly Balistreri, Bowling Green State University

Past research identifies increases in national income and urbanization as drivers of the global obesity epidemic and educational attainment as an important moderator. This work assumes children and adults respond similarly. We evaluate how socioeconomic and country-level factors associated with obesity differ between children and mothers. We analyzed 95 nationally representative health surveys (1990 to 2008) from 33 developing countries (N = 482,097 mothers and children). Consistent with prior research, mother’s risk of overweight was positively associated with economic development, urban residence, and maternal education. Economic development was associated with steeper increases in mothers’ risk of overweight among those with low education and those in rural areas. However, these associations were weaker for children. Child overweight was unassociated with maternal education and urban residence, and negatively associated with national income. Children’s patterns may arise from conditions in middle-income developing countries that increase the risk of child underweight and poor nutrition.

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Presented in Poster Session 3