Teenagers of normal weight who live in neighbourhoods with lower education or income levels are at higher risk of becoming overweight or obese later in life, says a new study.
It found that 25 percent of young adults became overweight or obese. "Emerging adulthood is a critical time period for excess weight gain due to a variety of factors, including many teenagers leaving home for college and having more freedom and access to food," noted Deborah Rohm Young, Researcher, Kaiser Permanente Southern California, Department of Research & Evaluation.
‘Emerging adulthood is a critical time period for excess weight gain due to a variety of factors, including many teenagers leaving home for college and having more access to junk food.’
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), social determinants of health, which are the conditions in which people are born, live, learn, work, play, worship and age, affect a wide range of health, functioning, and quality-of-life outcomes and risks.
For the study, the researchers analysed the health records of 22,823 ethnically diverse individuals who were 18-year-old with normal weight based on BMI less than 25 and followed them for four years. In this study, obesity count is based on the gender specific body mass index (BMI) for age growth charts developed by the CDC.
Over the course of four years, researchers found about 23 percent of the normal-weight teenagers living in neighbourhoods with low education became overweight and about 2 per cent of those living in lower income neighbourhoods became obese. In addition, females and blacks had almost 1.7 and 1.3 times the increased risk compared with males and whites, respectively, for being overweight or obese.
"Our study found that living in a disadvantaged place puts teens at an increased risk for being overweight or obese. Although we did not explore potential reasons for this increase, factors may include cultural norms, as well as lack of access to public parks and grocery stores," Young added, in the paper published in the journal Pediatric Obesity.