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Parental education and family income affect birthweight, early longitudinal growth and body mass index development differently

Journal article
Authors Rebecka Bramsved
Susann Regber
Daniel Novak
Kirsten Mehlig
Lauren Lissner
Staffan Mårild
Published in Acta paediatrica (Oslo, Norway : 1992)
Volume 107
Issue 11
Pages 1946-1952
ISSN 1651-2227
Publication year 2018
Published at Institute of Medicine, Department of Public Health and Community Medicine, Public Health Epidemiology Unit
Institute of Clinical Sciences, Department of Pediatrics
Pages 1946-1952
Language en
Keywords Birthweight; Childhood obesity; Health promotion; Parental education; Socio-economic factors KeyWords Plus:OBESITY; HEALTH; INEQUALITIES; TRAJECTORIES; CHILDHOOD; COUNTRIES; CHILDREN
Subject categories Pediatrics


This study investigated the effects of two parental socioeconomic characteristics, education and income, on the growth and obesity risks of children from birth to eight years of age.Longitudinal growth data and national register-based information on socioeconomic characteristics were available for 3,030 Swedish children. The development of body mass index (BMI) and height were compared in groups dichotomised by parental education and income.Low parental education was associated with a higher BMI from four years of age, independent of income, immigrant background, maternal BMI and smoking during pregnancy. Low family income was associated with a lower birth weight, but did not independently affect BMI development. At eight years of age, children from less-educated families had a three times higher risk of obesity, independent of parental income. Children to low educated-high income parents had significantly higher BMI and height than children to high educated-high income parents.Parental education protected against childhood obesity, even after adjusting for income and other important parental characteristics. Income-related differences in height, despite similar BMIs, raise questions about body composition and metabolic risk profiles. The dominant role of education underscores the value of health literacy initiatives for the parents of young children. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

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