Saturday, July 02, 2016

Inadequate financial savings tied to increased childhood health risks

Public Release: 30-Apr-2016
Inadequate financial savings tied to increased childhood health risks
Study links 'asset poverty' to higher risk of childhood obesity and chronic illness, as well as overall health of children
University of California - Los Angeles Health Sciences

The connection between a family's income and childhood health has been well-established, with lower income linked to poorer health and a greater likelihood of more chronic conditions. Now a new study by UCLA researchers shows that the size of the paycheck is not all that matters when it comes to children's health risks. So does the amount that a family has tucked away in savings.


UCLA researchers found that children in households with less than three months of savings had a substantially higher risk of obesity and chronic illnesses -- and worse overall health -- than children in households with more money set aside, even if the families were earning an adequate income. Having enough savings to cover basic expenses for three months is considered by many economists and financial planners to be the minimum target amount needed to avoid slipping into debt in the event of a financial shock, such as a car repair or short-term job loss.

Lead author Dr. Adam Schickedanz, a clinical instructor in pediatrics at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and a Robert Wood Johnson clinical scholar, said that savings is an aspect of socioeconomic status that is increasingly relevant. The proportion of American households living in asset poverty now exceeds 40 percent, he said, and the proportion of families with children living in asset poverty is more than 50 percent, or more than double the proportion living in income poverty.

"The findings showed that the longer families lived paycheck-to-paycheck, the worse their children's health risk. The strong associations between wealth and child health were independent of other key factors known to influence child health, such as parental income, education, race and age," Schickedanz said. "In fact, the study showed the differences in children's health tied to household wealth level were most often equal to or larger than differences associated with income or education level -- the factors typically used to measure economic-related health risks facing children and families."


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