Area-level deprivation and adiposity in children: Is the relationship linear?

C. Griffiths, P. Gately, P. R. Marchant, Carlton Cooke

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    8 Citations (Scopus)


    Objective:It has been suggested that childhood obesity is inversely associated with deprivation, such that the prevalence is higher in more deprived groups. However, comparatively few studies actually use an area-level measure of deprivation, limiting the scope to assess trends in the association with obesity for this indicator. Furthermore, most assume a linear relationship. Therefore, the aim of this study was to investigate associations between area-level deprivation and three measures of adiposity in children: body mass index (BMI), waist circumference (WC) and waist-to-height ratio (WHtR).Design:This is a cross-sectional study in which data were collected on three occasions a year apart (2005-2007).Subjects:Data were available for 13 333 children, typically aged 11-12 years, from 37 schools and 542 lower super-output areas (LSOAs).Measures:Stature, mass and WC. Obesity was defined as a BMI and WC exceeding the 95th centile according to British reference data. WHtR exceeding 0.5 defined obesity. The Index of Multiple Deprivation affecting children (IDACI) was used to determine area-level deprivation.Results: Considerable differences in the prevalence of obesity exist between the three different measures. However, for all measures of adiposity the highest probability of being classified as obese is in the middle of the IDACI range. This relationship is more marked in girls, such that the probability of being obese for girls living in areas at the two extremes of deprivation is around half that at the peak, occurring in the middle.Conclusion:These data confirm the high prevalence of obesity in children and suggest that the relationship between obesity and residential area-level deprivation is not linear. This is contrary to the 'deprivation theory' and questions the current understanding and interpretation of the relationship between obesity and deprivation in children. These results could help make informed decisions at the local level.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)486-492
    Number of pages7
    JournalInternational Journal of Obesity
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - Apr 2013


    • body mass index
    • deprivation
    • waist circumference
    • waist-to-height ratio


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