Poverty as a social determinant of childhood obesity in Haringey borough

Poverty as a social determinant of childhood obesity in Haringey borough

36% of the children living in Haringey borough, England live in poverty (Public Health England, 2014).  Prevalence in obesity is much higher in lower socioeconomic and socially disadvantageous groups compared to higher economic and social standards groups. Childhood obesity follows the same trend in prevalence.

The report will discuss:

  • The social determinants of health and health inequalities in the UK,
  • The demographic structure of Haringey,
  • How child obesity is a health need,
  • The policies that are in place to tackle it and interventions implemented in alleviating childhood obesity.

The study in the report will cover Haringey borough which is one among the many London boroughs in England. With a population of 225,000 people and being ranked as the 4th and 13th most deprived borough in London and England respectively. We will investigate poverty as one of the main social determinant of childhood obesity.

Some social determinants of health and health inequalities include unequal distribution of resources such as housing, education, financial security and/or poverty, built environment and health care system (Marmot, 2005). The differences in their distribution among the Haringey demographic population result to inequality in economic and health status.

One determinant of health and inequality is poverty. Poverty is found to cause childhood obesity in Haringey borough. One factor to support this is that a lot of fast food outlets have been put up in the most deprived areas. A quarter of the population are under the age of 20 years old hence eat high energy foods such as fast foods, fizzy drinks, sugary, foods and oily foods.

A lot of people are easily accessible to unhealthy foods that are cheaper and less time in consumption. The deprived areas have schools that lack spaces to support sports and physical activities while families lack finance or time for outdoor activities or to prepare meals hence quick fixes foods by buying fast foods leading to the borough recording obesity levels of 10.2% at reception, 23.4% at 6 years old but higher when you consider obesity and overweight.

Inequality is being addressed in borough through implementation of the following policies:

  • The government is embarking on eliminating child poverty by 2020 to tackle income poverty and social injustice (Waldfogel & Garnham, 2008).
  • Healthy Lives, Healthy People: A call to action on obesity in England (Britain, 2010) where the whole society is responsible in ensuring that it reduces obesity levels. The public are educated in consuming healthy foods while fast food outlets requested to provide healthy foods
  • Healthy Child Program is a policy that supports families in need to provide for their children the opportunity to have the best possible start in life (DoH, 2009).
  • Public Health Responsibility Deal policy requires business to offer healthy services, products and working environment.
  • Channge4Life Program that uses innovative and attractive methods to advise on healthy diet and physical activity
  • The government decision to reduce the number of fast food outlets in the most deprived areas of Haringey borough.


Britain, G. (2010). Healthy lives, healthy people: our strategy for public health in England. Stationery Office (Great Britain).

Department of Health (2009), Healthy Child Programme – Pregnancy and the first five years, Department for children, schools and families.

Haringey Council (2014), Haringey Joint Strategic Needs Assessment (JSNA), available at http://www.haringey.gov.uk/index/social_care_and_health/health/jsna.htm, [last accessed 10/10/2014].

Marmot, M (2005). Social determinants of health inequalities, The Lancet, 365( 9464), pp.1099-1104

Public Health England (2014) Area: Haringey LB, available at http://www.apho.org.uk/resource/item.aspx?RID=50277 [last accessed 9/10/2014].

Waldfogel, J., & Garnham, A. (2008). Childcare and child poverty. Report prepared for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation Initiative on Eradicating Child Poverty: The Role of Key Policy Areas.