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      The association between socioeconomic deprivation and secondary school students’ health: findings from a latent class analysis of a national adolescent health survey

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          The aims of this study were to examine indicators of socioeconomic deprivation among secondary school students and to determine associations between household poverty, neighbourhood deprivation and health indicators.


          Data were from a nationally representative sample of 8500 secondary school students in New Zealand who participated in a health survey in 2012. Latent class analyses were used to group students by household poverty based on nine indicators of household socioeconomic deprivation: no car; no phone; no computer; their parent/s worry about not having enough money for food; more than two people sharing a bedroom; no holidays with their families; moving home more than twice that year; garages or living rooms used as bedrooms; and, no parent at home with employment. Multilevel generalized linear models were used to estimate the cross-level interaction between household poverty and neighbourhood deprivation with depressive symptoms, cigarette smoking and overweight/ obesity.


          Three groups of students were identified: 80 % of students had low levels of household poverty across all indicators; 15 % experienced moderate poverty; and 5 % experienced high levels of poverty. Depressive symptoms and cigarette smoking were 2–3 times higher in the poverty groups compared to student’s not experiencing poverty. There were also higher rates of overweight/ obesity among students in the poverty groups compared to students not experiencing poverty, but once covariates were accounted for the relationship was less clear. Of note, students experiencing poverty and living in affluent neighbourhoods reported higher levels of depressive symptoms and higher rates of cigarette smoking than students experiencing poverty and living in low socioeconomic neighbourhoods. This cross-level interaction was not seen for overweight/ obesity.


          Measures of household socioeconomic deprivation among young people should not be combined with neighbourhood measures of socioeconomic deprivation due to non-linear relationships with health and behaviour indicators. Policies are needed that address household poverty alongside efforts to reduce socioeconomic inequalities in neighbourhoods.

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          Most cited references 30

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          Deciding on the Number of Classes in Latent Class Analysis and Growth Mixture Modeling: A Monte Carlo Simulation Study

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            Extended international (IOTF) body mass index cut-offs for thinness, overweight and obesity.

            The international (International Obesity Task Force; IOTF) body mass index (BMI) cut-offs are widely used to assess the prevalence of child overweight, obesity and thinness. Based on data from six countries fitted by the LMS method, they link BMI values at 18 years (16, 17, 18.5, 25 and 30 kg m(-2)) to child centiles, which are averaged across the countries. Unlike other BMI references, e.g. the World Health Organization (WHO) standard, these cut-offs cannot be expressed as centiles (e.g. 85th). To address this, we averaged the previously unpublished L, M and S curves for the six countries, and used them to derive new cut-offs defined in terms of the centiles at 18 years corresponding to each BMI value. These new cut-offs were compared with the originals, and with the WHO standard and reference, by measuring their prevalence rates based on US and Chinese data. The new cut-offs were virtually identical to the originals, giving prevalence rates differing by < 0.2% on average. The discrepancies were smaller for overweight and obesity than for thinness. The international and WHO prevalences were systematically different before/after age 5. Defining the international cut-offs in terms of the underlying LMS curves has several benefits. New cut-offs are easy to derive (e.g. BMI 35 for morbid obesity), and they can be expressed as BMI centiles (e.g. boys obesity = 98.9th centile), allowing them to be compared with other BMI references. For WHO, median BMI is relatively low in early life and high at older ages, probably due to its method of construction. © 2012 The Authors. Pediatric Obesity © 2012 International Association for the Study of Obesity.
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              Socioeconomic status in health research: one size does not fit all.

              Problems with measuring socioeconomic status (SES)-frequently included in clinical and public health studies as a control variable and less frequently as the variable(s) of main interest-could affect research findings and conclusions, with implications for practice and policy. We critically examine standard SES measurement approaches, illustrating problems with examples from new analyses and the literature. For example, marked racial/ethnic differences in income at a given educational level and in wealth at a given income level raise questions about the socioeconomic comparability of individuals who are similar on education or income alone. Evidence also shows that conclusions about nonsocioeconomic causes of racial/ethnic differences in health may depend on the measure-eg, income, wealth, education, occupation, neighborhood socioeconomic characteristics, or past socioeconomic experiences-used to "control for SES," suggesting that findings from studies that have measured limited aspects of SES should be reassessed. We recommend an outcome- and social group-specific approach to SES measurement that involves (1) considering plausible explanatory pathways and mechanisms, (2) measuring as much relevant socioeconomic information as possible, (3) specifying the particular socioeconomic factors measured (rather than SES overall), and (4) systematically considering how potentially important unmeasured socioeconomic factors may affect conclusions. Better SES measures are needed in data sources, but improvements could be made by using existing information more thoughtfully and acknowledging its limitations.

                Author and article information

                ++649 923 9400 ,
                Int J Equity Health
                Int J Equity Health
                International Journal for Equity in Health
                BioMed Central (London )
                16 July 2016
                16 July 2016
                : 15
                [ ]Department of Paediatrics: Child and Youth Health, Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences, The University of Auckland, Private Bag 92019, Auckland, 1142 New Zealand
                [ ]Section of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences, The University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand
                [ ]School of Pharmacy, Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences, The University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand
                [ ]Department of Social & Community Health, Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences, The University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand
                [ ]Child and Youth Health Team, Auckland District Health Board, Auckland, New Zealand
                [ ]Academic Division, University of Otago, Auckland, New Zealand
                [ ]School of Learning Development and Professional Practice, The University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand
                [ ]School of Nursing, Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences, The University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand
                © The Author(s). 2016

                Open AccessThis article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

                Funded by: Youth’12 was funded by the Ministries of Youth Development, Social Development, Health, Education, Justice; the Department of Labour, Families Commission; and the Alcohol Advisory Council.
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