Casino-related economic increase is linked to obesity risk decrease

May 1, 2014

A new investigation assessing whether openings or expansions of American Indian-owned casinos are associated with the risk of overweight suggests that economic resources have a direct effect on overweight/obesity risk.

 

Past studies have shown that economic resources and the risk of childhood overweight/obesity are inversely associated. Now, a new investigation assessing whether openings or expansions of American Indian-owned casinos are associated with the risk of overweight suggest that economic resources have a direct effect on overweight/obesity risk.

Researchers evaluated casino exposure, economic resources, and childhood overweight/obesity among children from about 100 tribal lands in California, drawing anthropometric data from fitness testing of American Indian children from school districts encompassingthese lands. They compared economic measures and body mass index in children in districts that opened or expanded a casino with data of children who lived in districts without a new or preexisting casino that did not expand.

Of the 117 districts represented, 57 opened or expanded a casino; 24 had a preexisting casino but did not expand; and 36 did not have a casino at any time. Districts that opened or expanded casinos saw an increase in mean per capita income and a decrease in population living in poverty, along with decreased risk of overweight/obesity among American Indian children. The greater the degree of casino expansion, the larger the drop in overweight/obesity risk (Jones-Smith JC, et al. JAMA. 2014;311[9]:929-936).

 

Ms Freedman is a freelance medical editor and writer in New Jersey. Dr Burke, section editor for Journal Club, is chairman of the Department of Pediatrics at Saint Agnes Hospital, Baltimore, Maryland. He is a contributing editor for Contemporary Pediatrics. The editors have nothing to disclose in regard to affiliations with or financial interests in any organizations that may have an interest in any part of this article.