Skip to main content
ARS Home » Plains Area » Grand Forks, North Dakota » Grand Forks Human Nutrition Research Center » Healthy Body Weight Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #246429

Title: The declining prevalence of overweight among Russian children: income, diet, and physical activity behavior changes

item Jahns, Lisa
item ADAIR, LINDA - University Of North Carolina
item MROZ, THOMAS - University Of North Carolina
item POPKIN, BARRY - University Of North Carolina

Submitted to: Economics and Human Biology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/17/2011
Publication Date: 8/12/2011
Citation: Jahns, L.A., Adair, L., Mroz, T., Popkin, B.M. 2011. The declining prevalence of overweight among Russian children: income, diet, and physical activity behavior changes. Economics and Human Biology. 10 (2012) 139–146.

Interpretive Summary: The obesity epidemic of childhood has been described for developed and developing countries, along with adverse health and social sequelae associated with excess adiposity. Within countries at different levels of economic development, socioeconomic factors may have differential effects, but overall the relationship is the same; low socioeconomic status (SES) is associated with poorer health, whether ill health takes the form of infectious disease related to undernutrition or nutrition-related noncommunicable disease related to overnutrition. While the prevalence of childhood overweight is increasing globally, this is not true in Russia. Since 1998 Russia has experienced economic development such that inadequate resources are barriers to obtaining satisfactory foods. The proportion of children living below the poverty line decreased and energy intake has risen, yet the prevalence of child overweight has decreased. In 1995, low income children consumed less energy and a lower proportion of fat than high income children, and spent more time in moderate activities, but by 2002, there was little difference between children by income group. Overall, the prevalence of overweight decreased among all children, significantly so among higher income children.This information indicates that healthy weight maintenance programs in Russia should be targeted to all children, regardless of SES.

Technical Abstract: Household income has been shown to be positively associated with overweight among post-Soviet Russian adults. The aim of this study is to examine the relationships among income, diet, physical activity behaviors and overweight among Russian children during a period of economic upheaval. Subjects include 2151 schoolchildren aged 7-13 derived from cross-sectional waves of the Russia Longitudinal Monitoring Surveys in 1995 and in 2002. Diet was assessed by 24-h recall and physical activity (hrs/week) and household income by parental questionnaire. Height and weight were measured and converted to BMI. IOTF cut-points were used to define overweight. Our analyses show that hours spent in vigorous activities were low (1.0-1.5 hrs/week), and time spent in sedentary behaviors increased from 31 to 37 hrs/week between 1995 and 2002. In 1995 there was a direct relationship of income to energy and fat intake, and time spent in vigorous activity, and an inverse relationship of income to hrs/wk spent in moderate activities (such as walking to school. These relationships were modified by year, and except for time spent in vigorous activity, the effect of being low income was greater in 2002 than in 1995. Overweight prevalence did not differ significantly by income in either year, but there was a significant decline in overweight among high income children. Only hours spent in moderate physical activity was moderately protective against overweight. In this setting, income disparities do not explain trends in overweight among Russian children.