Tackling socioeconomic differences in weight development among youth

Overweight and obesity are a significant public health challenge globally, and disproportionately affect those with a low socioeconomic position in developed countries. Despite an increasing commitment at national and international levels, reducing these inequalities has proved challenging. Such inequalities are particularly problematic among children because of both short and long-term consequences, contributing to a vicious circle of inequalities in health


Formal title

Tackling socioeconomic differences in weight development among youth.


The project is owned by the University of Oslo and consists of 3 sub-projects. NIH is involved in sub-project 3.
Link to the project

Major objective
The project aims to explore when, how and why socioeconomic differences in body weight develop during childhood. It will also investigate multilevel determinants of lifestyle behaviors and body weight among adolescents focusing on the role of the neighbourhood food and activity environments.

Specific objectives for sub-project 3
To investigate whether the characteristics of physical activity and food environment is related to physical activity, sedentary and dietary behaviors, and body weight among adolescence in a Norwegian context, after accounting for individual and family level determinants of these behaviors. Furthermore, we aim to investigate whether there is any moderating effect of individual SES and neighbourhood SES in this association.


A multilevel cross-sectional survey will be conducted in randomly selected neighbourhoods in Oslo (low, middle and high affluence neighbourhoods, based on median neighbourhood incomes using data from the central bureau of statistics). Neighbourhoods will be specifically defined within administrative boundaries. Schools with 7. grade students will be invited to participate. Anthropometrical measures including height and weight will be taken. Furthermore, the participants will be asked to wear an accelerometer for 7 days and answer a questionnaire about physical activity and dietary behaviors, and the neighbourhood food and activity environment.

The neighbourhood food and physical activity environments, which are the main determinants of interest, will be measured using Google Street View and a modified version of the SPOTLIGHT-Virtual Audit Tool. The instrument covers eight general areas: walking related items; cycling related items; public transport; aesthetics; land use-mix; grocery stores; food outlets and physical activity facilities.

The result of the project will be important for public health efforts aimed at reducing social differences in lifestyle behaviors and body weight among young people

The project group consists of Researcher Mekdes Gebremariam (co-supervisor), Professor Nanna Lien, Professor Lene Frost Andersen, PhD candidate Hanne Hennig Havdal and PhD candidate Teferi Mekonnen Yitayew from the University of Oslo; Professor Elisabeth Fosse from the University of Bergen; Associate Professor Elin Kolle (main supervisor) and PhD candidate Oddbjørn Klomsten Andersen from the Norwegian School of Sport Sciences; Dr Anne Lise Brantsaeter and Dr Eleni Papadopoulou, from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health; Professor Onyebuchi Arah from the University of California in Los Angeles and Professor Karien Stronks from the University of Amsterdam.

The project is funded by The Research Council of Norway – BEDRE HELSE program