Objective: Obesity is a major health problem among children and adolescents which is potentially affected by socioeconomic status (SES). The high risk group (HRG) comprises those youths with a body mass index (BMI) between the 85th and 95th percentile (at risk for overweight) and ≥95th percentile (overweight). We sought a potential link between the HRG and SES.
Methods: Public schools in Chesterfield County, Virginia measured BMI among students in kindergarten and third, seventh, and tenth grades. We assessed SES based on eligibility for the National School Lunch Program and the percentage of the school-age population living in poverty based on per capita income from the 2000 Census.
Results: From 28 to 38% of children and adolescents were in the high risk group. Low SES had robust and highly significant correlations with HRG status with r-values ranging from 0.565 to 0.842, P < 0.0001.
Conclusions: Low SES appears to be an important factor in childhood and adolescent obesity.
* Obesity, a major health problem among children and adolescents, is potentially affected by socioeconomic status (SES).
* Public schools in Chesterfield County, Virginia measured body mass index (BMI) among students in kindergarten, third, seventh and tenth grades, providing a database to explore the relationship between BMI and SES.
* We found a robust relationship between increased BMI (for sex and age) and low SES, suggesting that low SES may be a risk factor for childhood and adolescent obesity.
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