From February 2017, information about the work of the MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit, University of Glasgow is available and updated on the University of Glasgow website.

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When it comes to obesity, year of birth appears to be more important than your parents’ social background. New research shows that increases in obesity due to being born into a younger generation are nearly three time the increases in obesity due to being born into social disadvantage.

The impact of year of birth and social class on obesity

posted on: Feb 10, 2014

When it comes to obesity, year of birth appears to be more important than your parents’ social background. New research shows that increases in obesity due to being born into a younger generation are nearly three time the increases in obesity due to being born into social disadvantage.

Between 1982 and 2007 researchers at the Medical Research Council/Chief Scientist Office Social and Public Health Sciences Unit at the University of Glasgow studied thee cohorts of people living in the West of Scotland.  The Cohorts of people were born in 1932, 1952 and 1972 and each group was followed up five times over the 20 year period. Using collected BMI and waist circumference data researchers modelled trajectories of adiposity (levels of fatness) and found that childhood social class differences in adiposity were dwarfed by the consequences of being of being born 20 years later. Policy makers and campaigners need to recognise social and cultural changes in recent decades have lead to all social groups having an increased risk of obesity and that obesity is not just due to poor behaviour restricted to the “undeserving” poor.

The paper can be found here.