Cumulative social risk and obesity in early childhood

Shakira F. Suglia, Cristiane S. Duarte, Earle C. Chambers, Renée Boynton-Jarrett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

99 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVES: The goal of this study was to examine the relationship between cumulative social adversity and childhood obesity among preschool-aged children (N = 1605) in the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study. METHODS: Maternal reports of intimate partner violence, food insecurity, housing insecurity, maternal depressive symptoms, maternal substance use, and father's incarceration were obtained when the child was 1 and 3 years of age. Two cumulative social risk scores were created by summing the 6 factors assessed at ages 1 and 3 years. Child height and weight were measured at 5 years of age. Logistic regression models stratified according to gender were used to estimate the association between cumulative social risk and obesity, adjusting for sociodemographic factors. RESULTS: Seventeen percent of children were obese at age 5 years, and 57% had at least 1 social risk factor. Adjusting for sociodemographic factors, girls experiencing high cumulative social risk (≥2 factors) at age 1 year only (odds ratio [OR]: 2.1 [95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.1-4.1]) or at 3 years only (OR: 2.2 [95% CI: 1.2-4.2]) were at increased odds of being obese compared with girls with no risk factors at either time point. Those experiencing high cumulative risk at age 1 and 3 years were not at statistically significant odds of being obese (OR: 1.9 [95% CI: 0.9-4.0]). No significant associations were noted among boys. CONCLUSIONS: There seems to be gender differences in the effects of cumulative social risk factors on the prevalence of obesity at 5 years of age. Understanding the social context of families could make for more effective preventive efforts to combat childhood obesity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e1173-e1179
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2012


  • Cumulative risk
  • Food insecurity
  • Housing insecurity
  • Obesity
  • Social risk factors
  • Social stress
  • Violence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


Dive into the research topics of 'Cumulative social risk and obesity in early childhood'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this