Federal surveys of predominantly low-income children have not found the same declines among 2- to 5-year-olds seen in more comprehensive national surveys, for instance.
"Certainly, the burden of the obesity epidemic is carried by kids in low-income communities," says Shakira Suglia, Sc.D., an assistant professor of epidemiology at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health, in New York City.
A new study appearing in the May issue of the journal Pediatrics offers the latest evidence that less affluent children are faring worse when it comes to obesity. The study, which included a diverse group of nearly 37,000 Massachusetts children under age six, found that between 2004 and 2008 the obesity rate fell by 1.6 and 2.6 percentage points among boys and girls, respectively.
As the researchers expected, however, the falloff was more pronounced among children with non-Medicaid health insurance than among those on Medicaid, the government-funded health plan for low-income families.
"Unfortunately there seems to be some socioeconomic disparity in this decline," says lead researcher Xiaozhong Wen, M.D., a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard Medical School, in Boston.
Image: Obese boy, via Shutterstock.