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Childhood obesity is influenced by different factors

Photo: Boys and girls obese due to home factors
A new study suggests childhood obesity is influenced by different factors for young boys and young girls.

Eating too much takeaway food is the main reason for obesity in young Queensland boys but a major influence on girls is the marital status of their parents, a new study has found.

Researchers from the QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute found obese children were significantly more likely to live in disadvantaged areas, have less-educated parents, not engage in organised sport and eat takeaway food regularly.

While the common factors were identified, obesity in boys aged five to 11 was more strongly linked to eating takeaway twice or more a week but girls the same age were twice as likely to be obese if living with a single parent.
QIMR's senior biostatistician, Professor Peter O'Rourke, said parental education, single status, unemployment, diet and balancing exercise with excessive screen time were the main risk factors.

"I wasn't surprised at socio-economic disadvantage," he said.

Specifically for girls, the main contributing factor to obesity was parental social disadvantage, the research found.

"It was manifest by both the education level of the parents and single status of parents, " Prof O'Rourke explained.

Boys, he said, were eating too much takeaway.

"Childhood obesity flows over into adult obesity with consequences for chronic disease in later life," he said.

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