The correlation between child and adolescent obesity and poverty widened in the twenty-first century, according to UCL research

Bann, David et al. | Socioeconomic inequalities in childhood and adolescent body-mass index, weight, and height from 1953 to 2015: an analysis of four longitudinal, observational, British birth cohort studies  | The Lancet Public Health | Vol. 0 |  0 | ePub | Doi:

Researchers from University College London examined socioeconomic inequalities in childhood body- mass index (BMI).  Previous research findings revealed an association between rich countries and childhood-adolescent weight status, this study sought to address uncertainty surrounding how these markers (height, weight and BMI) have changed over time in Britain.

The longitudinal study looked at data from four longitudinal, observational, British birth cohort studies from 1946, 1958, 1970 and 2001. They categorised those in the 1946, 1958 and 1970 studies as the earlier-born cohorts and those from the 2001 cohort study as the later- born cohort.  They found that although inequalities traditionally associated with  height and weight narrowed or reversed, whereas differences in BMI between the poorest and wealthiest children expanded.

While there was little inequality in childhood BMI in the earlier-born cohorts, inequalities were present in the 2001 cohort and widened from childhood to adolescence in the 1958–2001 cohort. Their research has identified an association between obesity and poverty. According to the researchers, “these substantial changes highlight the impact of societal changes on child and adolescent growth and the insufficiency of previous policies in preventing obesity and its socioeconomic inequality. As such, new and effective policies are required to reduce BMI inequalities in childhood and adolescence.”

The full article is available from The Lancet Public Health 

As The Lancet Public Health is an open access journal the full article can be downloaded here 

Related: The Lancet’s comment Trends in childhood height and weight, and socioeconomic inequalities can be read here 

In the media:

The Telegraph  Poor children in Britain now fatter than wealthy in dramatic reversal

Express  Child obesity: How children lost the war on weight


Health Inequalities Manifesto 2018 presents actions to address mental health inequalities across England

Mental Health FoundationMarch 2018 | Health Inequalities Manifesto 2018 

Health Inequalities Manifesto 2018 is a new publication from the Mental Health Foundation, it underlines how certain population subgroups are at higher risk of mental health problems. This is a result of  of greater exposure and vulnerability to unfavourable social, economic, and environmental circumstances:

  • Material inequality – poverty, poor housing, lack of employment opportunities.
  • Social inequality and injury – stigma and discrimination or experiences related to:
    • living in care
    • immigration status
    • ethnicity
    • sexual orientation
    • disability
    • experience of violence or abuse.
  • Health inequality – including having long-term physical health conditions.
Mental health inequal
Image source:

The Mental Health Foundation recognise a social gradient which exists in relation to poverty and/or economic  inequality and poorer mental health and wellbeing. Populations living in poor socio-economic circumstances are at increased risk
of poor mental health, depression and lower wellbeing. They advocate particular approaches and interventions to reduce the risk factors underpinning inequalities and applying these proportionately across the social gradient.

Their review of the latest evidence about how to lessen the risk of mental health  inequalities has enabled the to identify five priorities for action.  The manifesto  presents these actions that can be applied to address mental health inequalities in England. These are:

  1. Healthy children: Promote emotional wellbeing and build resilience from birth through universal and targeted programmes..
  2. Healthy minds:  Introduce a comprehensive and multi-sectoral approach to address mental health promotion, prevention, treatment, discrimination, exclusion, care and recovery.
  3. Healthy places: Apply a socio-ecological approach that takes account of the impact of the social and physical environment, within homes and in settings such as schools and communities.
  4. Healthy communities: Introduce a place-based approach to protect and support good mental health and wellbeing in the community.
  5. Healthy habits: Give people the knowledge, tools and resources to protect and improve their own and their families’ and friends’ mental health.

The full manifesto can be downloaded from the Mental Health Foundation 

Healthy lives

The Local Government Association has published a series of documents relating to Public Health:

Gap between rich and poor has widened since 2001 according to new report

The Longevity Science Panel  (LSP) have published the latest health inequality figures.The LSP looked at data from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) for 33,000 residential areas in total.

The data show the increasing difference between the life expectancy of males in the least advantaged fifth of the population, compared to the most advantaged fifth.

  • Males aged 60 to 89 from the least advantaged fifth of the country were 52% more likely to die in 2001 than men in the most advantaged fifth. By 2015, the death rate for the least advantaged was 80% higher.
  • Similarly for women, the least advantaged fifth were 44% more likely to die in a year than the most advantaged fifth in 2001, but 81% more likely to die in 2015.
  • Baby girls born in the most advantaged fifth of neighbourhoods could expect to live 5 years longer than the least advantaged fifth in 2001, increasing to 5.8 years longer in 2015.
  • Although mortality rates have fallen across all groups, the most advantaged fifth have experienced a greater fall in death rates than their less advantaged counterparts

The full report can be read here

A new report from Public Health England (PHE), Equality in Public Health England How we met the public sector equality duty in 2017, details how PHE has responded to its equality duties in 2017. Further information is available from PHE

It can be accessed here  

The following article may also be of interest:

BBC News Life expectancy gap between rich and poor widens

Key Data on Young People

Key Data on Young People 2017 | The Association for Young People’s Health (AYHP) | via OnMedica

This report looks at the living circumstances, education and employment, health behaviours and lifestyle, sexual health, mental health, physical health and long-term conditions, and use of health care services of children and young people.

The report  found evidence of a number of positive trends, with rates of drinking, smoking and teenage pregnancy all continuing to fall. However, authors explained the teens and early 20s remain a ‘risky period’ in health terms, for a range of issues that will have lifetime implications. These include: diet, activity and obesity; sexually transmitted infections; the peak age for diagnosis of a number of chronic conditions such as asthma and type 1 diabetes; the peak age for hospitalisation for challenging conditions such as eating disorders and self-harm; the most common age for concerns around child sexual exploitation.

The report also highlighted the impact of health inequalities, with young people living in the most deprived areas are more likely to be killed or seriously injured on roads, more likely to be obese, and more likely to have worse physical, mental and sexual health outcomes.

Full report: Key Data on Young  People 2017:  Latest information and statistics 

OnMedica News story: We are ‘sitting on a young people’s health time bomb’

New liver disease data shows major variation across England

The rate of people dying early from liver disease in some parts of England is almost 8 times higher than others. | Public Health England

New data published by Public Health England (PHE) shows a wide variation of premature mortality rates from liver disease across England.

Liver disease is almost entirely preventable with the major risk factors, alcohol, obesity and Hepatitis B and C, accounting for up to 90% of cases. The atlas will help health professionals to allocate their resources to improve patient outcomes.

The atlas shows premature mortality rates – dying before the age of 75 – ranged from 3.9 per 100,000 in South Norfolk clinical commissioning group (CCG) to 30.1 per 100,000 in Blackpool CCG, a 7.7 fold difference.

The atlas paints a mixed picture, with 10 indicators showing improvements including a reduction of premature deaths and fewer alcohol-specific hospital admissions for under 18s.

Nine of the indicators have become worse over time, including a doubling of hospital admission rates for cirrhosis from 54.8 per 100,000 to 108.4 per 100,000 people over the past decade. This indicator also varies significantly across the country with an 8.5 fold variation across CCGs and this gap has widened over the past decade.

The 2nd Atlas of Variation in risk factors and healthcare for liver disease in England will be published on the PHE fingertips website.