Panel Paper: BMI Variations in Early-Childhood Development. Educational Programs Control the BMI Disparities Reducing the Probability of Being on an out-of-Normal Category

Thursday, July 19, 2018
Building 5, Sala Maestros Lower (ITAM)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Kasim Allel1 and Marigen Narea1,2, (1)Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, (2)Center for Advanced Studies on Educational Justice

Demographic, socioeconomic and lifestyle factors have led to inadequate eating behaviors in early-childhood. However, pre-school education tends to moderate the overweight growth when linked to center-based care at early ages. Previous studies reveal 34% of overweight children under 6 years old in Chile. This study explains how educational attainments reduce the probability of being overweight, and the determinants of BMI variations for toddlers in Chile.

Using the Chilean Longitudinal Survey in Early-Childhood(ELPI), two models were developed. First, a difference-in-difference design was used to obtain the BMI’s variations across waves. Children under maternal-care aged below 24 months in 2010, were followed-up in 2012, registering whether they attended a center-based care program. Second, using the same previous sample, we estimated the probability of being overweight in 2012. Finally, to contrast the effect of center-based care, we examine the association between the probability of being overweight in 2012 and the BMI gains/losses between 2010-2012.

The results depict lower BMI differences between both years for children who attended center-based care. The effect is clearer using a diff-in-diff with Propensity-score matching model(P-value<0.05). The main determinants of child overweight in 2012 are mother’s BMI and physical-health, and child lifestyle (hours of TV and sleep). This suggests that policies whose aim is to reduce the gap between normal BMI and extreme categories are potentially beneficial.

Public policies should encourage the participation in educational-care programs, foster healthy practices and, favor nutritionally balanced diets. Controlling BMI sudden increases should be promoted to fight the worldwide overweight epidemic faced currently.

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