Association between the Sociodemographic Characteristics of Parents with Health-Related and Lifestyle Markers of Children in Three Different Spanish-Speaking Countries: An Inter-Continental Study at OECD Country Level

The purpose of this cross-cultural study was to determine the association between the sociodemographic background of a child's parents (i.e., their socioeconomic level, marital status, and educational level) with the child's lifestyle (i.e., Mediterranean diet (MD), physical activity (PA) and screen time (ST)), and health markers. Material: This cross-sectional study included 1273 children, from Chile (n = 496), Colombia (n = 340), and Spain (n = 437). The sociodemographic information together with the lifestyle and health markers of the children were measured. There was an inverse association between a low or medium-low socioeconomic level for the parents of Chilean children and handgrip strength (beta -0.61, p < 0.001); meanwhile, for Spanish children, an inverse association between a low or medium-low socioeconomic level and PA after school (beta -0.58, p = 0.016), lifestyle (beta -0.74, p = 0.015), and with MD adherence (beta -0.86, p = 0.004) was found. The risk (i.e., by odd ratios (OR)) of being divorced/separated parents marital status showed an inverse association with abdominal obesity (OR 0.21, p = 0.045) in Spanish children; however, the parent's marital status and a low educational level were risk factors for the suffering of a low nutritional level in Colombian children (OR 2.02, p = 0.048; OR 2.49, p < 0.001, respectively). On the other hand, a low educational level for parents reported for Chilean children had a positive association with ST of >= 4 h per day (OR 1.82, p = 0.020). In conclusion, in Spanish-speaking children, the lifestyle and health markers of the children are affected by the sociodemographic background of their parents; however, these effects could be moderated by the socio-cultural and economic status of their countries as members of the OCDE; therefore, it is essential to develop policies that decrease these gaps, so that children who are under-resourced can reach their full potential.

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