CHILDREN growing up in low-income homes are twice as likely to become obese, research has shown.
It also reveals that children who have the condition have an 82pc chance of remaining so into adulthood, compared to just 15pc of children with a normal weight in childhood.
It found that children in poorer households were 2.5 times more likely to be obese than those in well-off households, while those in the lowest socio-economic group are 4.1 times more likely to be obese compared with those in the top group.
Brendan Walsh of NUI, Galway, co-author of the study with Dr John Cullinan, said that "the vast majority of inequality observed in childhood obesity is not at the childhood level, it's at the parental level".
"So things like socio-economic group, education of parent, parental BMI, smoking and alcohol status altogether explain about 75pc of the inequality in childhood obesity," Mr Walsh said.
He added that while childhood obesity itself is a problem the real impact is only seen when they become adults.
"For a child of recommended weight about 15pc of those will become obese.
"For a child who is seen as overweight or obese 65pc of those will become obese and for an obese child about 82pc of those may become obese. So it's a huge leap from 15pc to 82pc," he said.
If a child's mother was obese the child was 5.5 times more likely to develop the condition compared to children with mothers of recommended weight.
Mr Walsh added that while there has been a slight reduction or levelling off of obesity rates in children across Europe, this has mainly occurred within the highest socio-economic groups.
"The importance of socio-economic inequalities may actually be increasing in this context," he added.