Adolescents, especially young women, who grow up and live in poor neighbourhoods are more likely to become or remain obese in adulthood than their peers who live in more affluent localities, says a study.
Researchers hypothesise that the link between poverty and obesity is partially attributed to the lack of exercise amenities, healthy food sources and increased stress in low-income areas.
“The long-term residential experiences of teenagers can affect their life-long health,” said Adam Lippert from the University of Colorado-Denver in the US.
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“It’s encouraging to see that the risk of obesity can be curtailed by moving out of low-income areas,” added Lippert in a paper published in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior.
The team examined national survey data from students in grades seven through 12 that were followed over a period of 13 years.
The team sought to understand how the odds of becoming obese varied for young men and women as they entered, exited or consistently lived in poor neighbourhoods during the transition to adulthood.
The findings showed that when teenagers move out of low-income neighbourhoods, their risk of obesity decreases, while moving into a poor neighbourhood increases the risk.
And consistently living in poor areas puts young people especially teenage girls at greater risk for becoming or remaining obese in the future.
“Providing teenagers with resources to improve their residential circumstances as they enter adulthood can positively impact their life and health”,” Lippert suggested.