Danish children born to parents with lower levels of education are more likely to become overweight

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Little is known about whether the socio-economic status of parents is linked to their children becoming overweight. This study examined the association between parents' educational level and overweight Danish children in a nationally representative sample.
Body mass index was calculated for a random sample of 512 children aged from four to 14 from the Danish National Survey of Diet and Physical Activity 2005-2008. Their parents provided weight and height data during an interview, together with details of their own educational level. Children were classified as overweight/obese in accordance with the International Obesity Task Force. Frequency estimates of prevalence and logistic regression models were used to correlate childhood overweight/obesity with the mothers' and fathers' educational levels as the main outcome measures.
Danish mothers tended to be more highly educated than fathers and their educational level was inversely associated with their child being overweight, especially if it was a boy. However, the highest educational level of the parents was the only significant educational variable, suggesting that education was associated with overweight children irrespective of the gender of the parent.
Public health initiatives should target parents with low educational levels to prevent, and reduce, social inequality in overweight children.
Original languageEnglish
JournalActa Paediatrica
Issue number10
Pages (from-to)1083-1088
Number of pages6
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • Childhood obesity
  • Scandinavia
  • Maternal education
  • Paternal education
  • Socio-economic status


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