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Fat ‘more likely to affect middle-class’

23rd July 2007

Children from wealthy middle class families with highly-paid working mothers are more likely to be obese than those from poorer backgrounds, a new study has revealed.

Rather than a lack of money for healthy food, how much time a mother is able to spend with her children in preparing food and encouraging exercise appears to be the driving factor in whether children are seriously overweight.

Researchers from the Institute of Child Health at University College London and Great Ormond Street hospital studied the development of more than 13,000 children.

Writing in the International Journal of Obesity, they say that children from families with an annual income between ?22,000 and ?33,000 were ten per cent more likely to be overweight or obese than those from the lowest income groups.

In families where the income was ?33,000 or more children were 15 per cent more likely to be overweight than the poorest children.

The study also revealed that children in childcare were more likely to be overweight than those cared for by their mother or her partner.

“Long hours of maternal employment, rather than lack of money, may impede young children’s access to healthy foods and physical activity,” the report concludes.

Last year government figures warned that one million children could be obese by 2010.

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