London: A new study has found that poor children are three times more likely to be obese than the rich kids, suggesting that obesity and poverty go hand in hand.
Children who are overweight or obese are far more likely to suffer serious illnesses like Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer later in life, the Mirror reported.
The University College London experts analysed data from a major study which tracked nearly 20,000 families across Britain. This allowed them to measure children's sizes at age five and 11.
Their study found the link between relative poverty and childhood obesity was "stark" and at age 5, poor children were almost twice as likely to be obese compared with their better off peers.
Yvonne Kelly, who led the study, said that intervening in the early years when the family environment has more profound influences on children's healthy development has the potential to be particularly effective.
The study found that doing sport more than three times a week was important, as was an earlier bedtime and regular fruit consumption which were both linked to weight loss.
Kelly added that the structural causes of socioeconomic inequalities have to be addressed along with tackling inherited obesity via lifestyle factors that tend to go with lower incomes. "Early intervention with parents clearly has huge potential. And evidence from our work suggests that this should start before birth or even conception."
The study appears in the European Journal of Public Health.