The findings in 'Bite Size: Breaking down the challenge of inner-city childhood obesity' suggest we should focus on creating environments that make healthy choices the norm, and on breaking the link between childhood obesity and deprivation.
Our work is framed by a behavioural approach to understanding childhood obesity, and draws on studies and theory from psychology, behavioural economics, ethnography and expert insight. Below is a summary of our key findings.
Deprivation: there is a strong but complex relationship between socioeconomic status and childhood obesity. Low incomes directly constrain the diet and exercise choices families can make. Education levels, along with the cognitive burden of living under financial strain, are also associated with behaviours that lead to higher rates of childhood obesity.
Urban environments: some aspects of the built environment encourage behaviours that lead to childhood obesity. It is difficult to unravel the precise relationship between the characteristics of an area, the people who live there and their health outcomes. However, physical aspects of the environment – along with people’s perceptions of it – clearly have an impact on behaviour.
Diversity: inner-city areas are often ethnically diverse. This can influence diet and exercise behaviour. However, evidence suggests that whilst cultural differences in behaviours do contribute to childhood obesity, far more is common across groups than is different.
Complexity of the problem: the relationship between deprivation, diversity and the urban context is often nonlinear. Despite this, the complexity of what drives childhood obesity doesn't mean interventions must be equally complex. A broad range of simple interventions has the most potential to tackle child obesity when aggregated at population level.
Taking collective responsibilityOur CEO's view
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