Prenatal, perinatal, early life, and sociodemographic factors underlying racial differences in the likelihood of high body mass index in early childhood

OBJECTIVES: We investigated early childhood disparities in high body mass index (BMI) between Black and White US children.

METHODS: We compared differences in Black and White children’s prevalence of sociodemographic, prenatal, perinatal, and early life risk and protective factors; fit logistic regression models predicting high BMI (≥ 95th percentile) at age 4 to 5 years to 2 nationally representative samples followed from birth; and performed separate and pooled-survey estimations of these models.

RESULTS: After adjustment for sample design-related variables, models predicting high BMI in the 2 samples were statistically indistinguishable. In the pooled-survey models, Black children’s odds of high BMI were 59% higher than White children’s (odds ratio [OR] = 1.59; 95% confidence interval [CI]= 1.32, 1.92). Sociodemographic predictors reduced the racial disparity to 46% (OR = 1.46; 95% CI = 1.17, 1.81). Prenatal, perinatal, and early life predictors reduced the disparity to nonsignificance (OR = 1.18; 95% CI = 0.93, 1.49). Maternal prepregnancy obesity and short-duration or no breastfeeding were among predictors for which racial differences in children’s exposures most disadvantaged Black children.

CONCLUSIONS: Racial disparities in early childhood high BMI were largely explained by potentially modifiable risk and protective factors.

Read full article