Social inequality and age-specific gender differences in overweight and perception of overweight among Swedish children and adolescents: a cross-sectional study
2015 (English)In: BMC Public Health, ISSN 1471-2458, Vol. 15, no 628Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Background: Overweight among children and adolescents related to social inequality, as well as age and gender differences, may contribute to poor self-image, thereby raising important public health concerns. This study explores social inequality in relation to overweight and perception of overweight among 263 boys and girls, age 7 to 17, in Vaxjo, Sweden. Methods: Data were obtained through a questionnaire and from physical measurements of height, weight and waist circumference [WC]. To assess social, age and gender differences in relation to overweight, the independent sample t- and chi-square tests were used, while logistic regression modeling was used to study determinants for perception of overweight. Results: Social inequality and gender differences as they relate to high ISO-BMI [Body Mass Index for children] and WC were associated with low maternal socioeconomic status [SES] among boys less than 13 years [mean age = 10.4; n = 65] and with low paternal education level among boys = 13 years [mean age = 15.0; n = 39] [p less than 0.05]. One suggested explanation for this finding is maternal impact on boys during childhood and the influence of the father as a role model for adolescent boys. The only association found among girls was between high ISO-BMI in girls = 13 years [mean age = 15.0; n = 74] and low paternal occupational status. Concerning perception of overweight, age and gender differences were found, but social inequality was not the case. Among boys and girls less than 13 years, perception of overweight increased only when overweight was actually present according to BMI or WC [p less than 0.01]. Girls = 13 years [mean age = 15.0] were more likely to unrealistically perceive themselves as overweight or "too fat," despite factual measurements to the contrary, than boys [p less than 0.05] and girls less than 13 years [mean age = 10.4; n = 83] [p less than 0.001]. Conclusions: The association between social inequality and overweight in adolescence in this study is age-and gender-specific. Gender differences, especially in perception of overweight, tend to increase with age, indicating that adolescence is a crucial period. When planning interventions to prevent overweight and obesity among children and adolescents, parental SES as well as age and gender-specific differences in social norms and perception of body weight status should be taken into account.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
BioMed Central , 2015. Vol. 15, no 628
Social inequality; Overweight; Obesity; Perception of overweight; Childhood; Adolescence
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-120339DOI: 10.1186/s12889-015-1985-xISI: 000357559600001PubMedID: 26156095OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-120339DiVA: diva2:843903
Funding Agencies|Erik Johan Ljungberg Educational Fund; County Council of Ostergotland; Medical Research Council of Southeast Sweden [FORSS-233111]2015-07-312015-07-312016-01-12