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BMJ 2012; 345 doi: (Published 29 August 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;345:e5754

School and socioeconomic factors explain most of ethnic disparities in health of preadolescent children

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In a survey of publicly funded US schools in the greater Birmingham (Alabama), Houston, and Los Angeles areas, researchers interviewed 5119 fifth grade students (10 and 11 year olds) and their primary carers about health related and socioeconomic factors. They also measured the children’s height and weight to assess obesity.

In unadjusted analyses, black children were worse off than white children on all health related outcomes, which included exposure to or participation in violence, use of safety devices such as seat belts and cycle helmets, risk behaviours such as smoking and physical inactivity, obesity, worries about terrorist attacks, discrimination, and physical and psychological quality of life. Compared with white children, Latino children also fared worse on most of the outcomes.

Similar results were seen for socioeconomic factors. Whereas 71% of white children lived in households where at least one person completed college, only 23% of black …

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