Cumulative Social Risk and Obesity in Early Childhood

Pediatrics, 05/10/2012

Suglia SF et al. – There seems to be gender differences in the effects of cumulative social risk factors on the prevalence of obesity at 5 years of age. Understanding the social context of families could make for more effective preventive efforts to combat childhood obesity.


  • Maternal reports of intimate partner violence, food insecurity, housing insecurity, maternal depressive symptoms, maternal substance use, and father’s incarceration were obtained when the child was 1 and 3 years of age.
  • Two cumulative social risk scores were created by summing the 6 factors assessed at ages 1 and 3 years.
  • Child height and weight were measured at 5 years of age.
  • Logistic regression models stratified according to gender were used to estimate the association between cumulative social risk and obesity, adjusting for sociodemographic factors.


  • Seventeen percent of children were obese at age 5 years, and 57% had at least 1 social risk factor.
  • Adjusting for sociodemographic factors, girls experiencing high cumulative social risk at age 1 year only (odds ratio [OR]: 2.1 [95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.1–4.1]) or at 3 years only (OR: 2.2 [95% CI: 1.2–4.2]) were at increased odds of being obese compared with girls with no risk factors at either time point.
  • Those experiencing high cumulative risk at age 1 and 3 years were not at statistically significant odds of being obese (OR: 1.9 [95% CI: 0.9–4.0]). No significant associations were noted among boys.

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