Peter and Isabel Malkin Professor of Public Policy, HKS and FAS, Emeritus
suggest that the rapid growth in youth obesity seen in the 1980s and
1990s has plateaued. We examine changes in obesity among US adolescents
aged 12-17 y by socioeconomic background using data from two nationally
representative health surveys, the 1988-2010 National Health and
Nutrition Examination Surveys and the 2003-2011 National Survey of
Children's Health. Although the overall obesity prevalence stabilized,
this trend masks a growing socioeconomic gradient: The prevalence of
obesity among high-socioeconomic status adolescents has decreased in
recent years, whereas the prevalence of obesity among their
low-socioeconomic status peers has continued to increase. Additional
analyses suggest that socioeconomic differences in the levels of
physical activity, as well as differences in calorie intake, may have
contributed to the growing obesity gradient.
Frederick, Carl B., Kaisa Snellman, and Robert D. Putnam. "Increasing Socioeconomic Disparities in Adolescent Obesity." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 111.4 (January 2014): 1338-1342.