Poverty, Development, and Childhood Obesity

To those living in a middle-to-high socioeconomic class, the typical view of a child living in poverty involves the exaggerated image of an underweight, malnourished child in a developing country. Opposing this belief is the statistic that “children from low socioeconomic populations are seven times more likely to be obese as to be underweight” (Kuo, Coller, Stewart-Brown, & Blair, 2016, p. 87). While obesity is partially associated with the overconsumption of calories, the etiology of the disease process is considered multifactorial. Recent research concerning the effect of poverty on children’s health regarding obesity has indicated that living in a low socioeconomic status limits access to key factors that can combat obesity. These factors include but are not limited to: health insurance, adequate access to healthy food, safe outdoor recreational facilities or sidewalks, and opportunity for social mobility. Expanding beyond the borders of the United States, these trends can be seen internationally. While on a medical mission to various impoverished cities of Kenya in 2018, my team and I surprisingly provided care for more overweight than underweight children. Thus, this poster explores the causes and costs of childhood obesity to suggest that developed and developing nations need more than “food aid” to reduce the prevalence of obesity in poverty-stricken children. These nations also need support from the infrastructure to foster sufficient and long-term change.