Obesity Linked to Economic Status in Developing Countries

In low- and middle-income countries, socioeconomic status plays an important role in obesity

WEDNESDAY, July 18 (HealthDay News) -- In low- and middle-income developing countries, socioeconomic status (SES) plays an important role in the development of obesity, particularly in women, according to research published online July 5 in Obesity Reviews.

Girmaye D. Dinsa, of the Norwich Medical School at the University of East Anglia in the United Kingdom, and colleagues conducted a systematic review of 42 studies that assessed the association between SES and obesity in men, women, and children in low- and middle-income developing countries. The per capita income cap defined by the World Bank was $12,275 per year.

The researchers found that, in low-income countries, the prevalence of obesity tended to be higher in more affluent men and women and those with higher education than in lower SES groups. However, the association between SES and obesity tended to be mixed for men and mostly negative for women in middle-income countries. In women, the burden of obesity began at a per capita income of approximately $1,000. In children, obesity tended to be a problem only in more affluent families in both low- and middle-income countries.

"Our results shed light on the overall picture of the association between SES and obesity globally: obesity is a problem of the rich in low-income countries for both men and women, while there is a mixed picture in middle-income countries," the authors write.

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