Obesity in Early Childhood: Examining the Relationship among Demographic, Behavioral, Nutritional, and Socioeconomic Factors

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Childhood Obesity


Background: The present study sought to explore the combined relationship of physical activity, screen time, consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages, infant feeding practices, and demographic factors with obesity in early childhood. Methods: The current study included cross-sectional Kindergarten Health Survey data collected annually from 2012 to 2016. The sample included 7814 kindergarten students, with a mean age of 5.02 [standard deviation = 0.33]. A Multinomial Logistic Regression using body mass index as the dependent variable and select demographic traits, dietary practices, sedentary behaviors, and physical activity indicators as independent variables was used to assess relationship of aforementioned factors to obesity. Results: Children were more likely to be obese if they were non-Caucasian, male, lived in rural areas, lived at or below the poverty level, had public insurance, or lived in single-parent households. Children who received less than 30 minutes of physical activity 3 or fewer days per week, had more than 2 hours of daily screen time, consumed any amount of soda, and consumed anything other than breast milk at 6 months of age also had a higher probability of being obese. Conclusions: The findings from this study suggest that investments in prevention strategies are needed to address the behavioral patterns and socioeconomic disparities before kindergarten. Efforts that increase access to nutritious food, physical activity, and overall family wellness and education, such as high-quality early childhood education, could be feasible prevention approaches.


Breastfeeding; Health disparities; Obesity; Pediatrics; Prevention


Maternal and Child Health | Medical Specialties | Medicine and Health Sciences | Pediatrics



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