Socioeconomic inequalities and severe obesity—Sex differences in a nationwide study of 1.12 million Israeli adolescents

Orit Pinhas-Hamiel, Brian Reichman, Arnon Afek, Estela Derazne, Dorit Tzur, Uri Hamiel, Tarif Bader, Khitam Muhsen, Gilad Twig

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: In a nationwide population of adolescents, we investigated the sex-specific association of socioeconomic position (SEP) with severe obesity, and trends over time. Methods: The cohort comprises all Israeli adolescents (mean ± SD age 17.3 ± 0.5 years) who were medically examined, before mandatory military service during 2000 to 2015. Of 1 120 362 adolescents, 239 816 (21.4%) were classified with overweight or with obesity classes I to III using the International Obesity Task Force criteria. Data were compared between 2000 to 2009 and 2010 to 2015. Results: Considering more advantaged residential SEP as the reference group, the respective odds ratios (ORs ± 95%CI) of less advantaged SEP for obesity classes I to III in 2010 to 2015 were 1.48 (1.40-1.56), 1.66 (1.51-1.83), and 1.73 (1.45-2.08) for males; and 1.72 (1.60-1.84), 1.89 (1.66-2.15), and 2.62 (2.04-3.37) for females. All point estimates were higher than in the preceding decade. Considering female inductees from the more advantaged SEP as the reference group, ORs were higher for males in the more advantaged SEP group, for overweight, 1.31 (1.27-1.36); class I obesity, 1.29 (1.20-1.38); class II obesity, 1.34 (1.18-1.53); and class III obesity, 1.60 (1.24-2.07). Similarly, in the less and medium advantaged SEP groups, increased ORs for males compared with females were observed in all obesity groups. Results persisted using United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention growth charts. Conclusions: Adolescents with less rather than more advantaged residential SEP are at greater risk of severe obesity. Adolescent males, of all residential SEP groups had higher odds than females for all classes of obesity.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere12681
JournalPediatric obesity
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2020


  • adolescents
  • severe obesity
  • sex
  • socioeconomic position

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health Policy
  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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