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Relative deprivation and risk factors for obesity in Canadian adolescents

Elgar, Frank, Xie, Annie, Pförtner, Timo-Kolja, White, James and Pickett, Kate 2016. Relative deprivation and risk factors for obesity in Canadian adolescents. Social Science and Medicine 152 , pp. 111-118. 10.1016/j.socscimed.2016.01.039

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Research on socioeconomic differences in overweight and obesity and on the ecological association between income inequality and obesity prevalence suggests that relative deprivation may contribute to lifestyle risk factors for obesity independently of absolute affluence. We tested this hypothesis using data on 25,980 adolescents (11–15 years) in the 2010 Canadian Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) study. The Yitzhaki index of relative deprivation was applied to the HBSC Family Affluence Scale, an index of common material assets, with more affluent schoolmates representing the comparative reference group. Regression analysis tested the associations between relative deprivation and four obesity risk factors (skipping breakfasts, physical activity, and healthful and unhealthful food choices) plus dietary restraint. Relative deprivation uniquely related to skipping breakfasts, less physical activity, fewer healthful food choices (e.g., fruits, vegetables, whole grain breads), and a lower likelihood of dieting to lose weight. Consistent with Runciman's (1966) theory of relative deprivation and with psychosocial interpretations of the health consequences of income inequality, the results indicate that having mostly better off schoolmates can contribute to poorer health behaviours independently of school-level affluence and subjective social status. We discuss the implications of these findings for understanding the social origins of obesity and targeting health interventions.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Development and Evaluation of Complex Interventions for Public Health Improvement (DECIPHer)
Subjects: R Medicine > R Medicine (General)
Additional Information: Available online 28 January 2016
Publisher: Elsevier
ISSN: 0037-7856
Funders: Medical Research Council
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2016
Date of Acceptance: 24 January 2016
Last Modified: 19 Jan 2022 11:13

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