Children show effects of poverty by age of three, study finds

Almost two-thirds of families said recession had had a big effect on their lives since '08


Young children from the most disadvantaged backgrounds are more likely to be obese, have poorer diets and display behavioural problems than children from more advantaged families, according to research to be published today.

The latest report from the Government-funded Growing Up in Ireland study looked at the lives of children from birth to three years old and found that a gap had begun to open up in the health of children before they reached the age of three.

By the age of three, 67 per cent of children from the most socially disadvantaged families were rated as “very healthy”, compared with 75 per cent of children from more advantaged backgrounds. These differences were not found by researchers when they interviewed parents when their children were nine months old.

The report highlighted the differences in obesity levels between different social classes. Nine per cent of children living with parents who never worked were classed as obese, compared with 5 per cent of children in higher social classes.

Children of less-educated primary caregivers were more likely to have consumed energy-dense food such as hamburgers and crisps, but less likely to have eaten fresh fruit or vegetables, in the 24 hours before they were interviewed.