Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Overweight primarily a problem among wealthier women in low- to middle-income countries

Date:
November 23, 2010
Source:
Harvard School of Public Health
Summary:
A new study finds that high body mass index (BMI) in developing countries remains primarily a problem of the rich.

A new study from the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) finds that high body mass index (BMI) in developing countries remains primarily a problem of the rich. The findings suggest that the shift towards overweight and obesity among the poor that has already happened in wealthier countries has not yet happened in developing countries.

Related Articles


The study appears in an advance online edition of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition and will appear in an upcoming print edition.

"Previous research on the increasing overweight and obesity burden in developing countries has assumed that the burden is shared by everybody within these countries; however, we found that the social patterning of weight continues to closely resemble the unequal distribution of income and other resources," said S V Subramanian, lead author of the paper and associate professor in the department of society, human development, and health at HSPH.

Subramanian and his colleagues analyzed data from nationally representative samples of 538,140 women ages 15 to 49 drawn from Demographic and Health Surveys conducted in 54 low- to middle-income countries between 1994 and 2008. They looked at BMI, education, household wealth, and the per capita Gross Domestic Product (pcGDP) from the women's home countries. The researchers found an association between BMI and wealth in every country except Moldova and Kazakhstan. Globally, a 25% increase on the measure of wealth index was associated with a 54% increase in BMI and a 33% increase in overweight. Similar patterns were observed in urban and rural areas within countries. There were no strong associations found between weight and either education or pcGDP.

The researchers theorize that these findings could be due to a number of factors, including that women in higher income groups are more likely to have diets richer in animal fats than lower-income women. Also, cultural norms in developing countries may favor fatty body shapes among wealthier women. Richer women are also less likely than poor women to engage in regular physical labor.

While increasing BMI and overweight prevalence are important public health concerns in many of these countries, their distribution among socioeconomic groups needs to be a central consideration in drafting policies for improving the nutritional status of populations in developing countries, according to the researchers.

"Our findings have serious policy implications," Subramanian said. "If being overweight is primarily concentrated among the rich, should precious public resources be targeted to reducing overweight or should they be devoted to policies that improve nutritional outcomes among the poor?" He added, "The fact that the burden of overweight and underweight is concentrated largely in two distinct socioeconomic groups actually is a good thing from a policy perspective, with the challenge being how to balance the emphasis in terms of priorities."

No direct funding source supported this study. Macro International Inc. provided access to the Demographic and Health Surveys. Subramanian is supported by a career development grant from the U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Harvard School of Public Health. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. S. Subramanian, J. M. Perkins, E. Ozaltin, G. Davey Smith. Weight of nations: a socioeconomic analysis of women in low- to middle-income countries. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2010; DOI: 10.3945/ajcn.110.004820

Cite This Page:

Harvard School of Public Health. "Overweight primarily a problem among wealthier women in low- to middle-income countries." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 November 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101122152047.htm>.
Harvard School of Public Health. (2010, November 23). Overweight primarily a problem among wealthier women in low- to middle-income countries. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 30, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101122152047.htm
Harvard School of Public Health. "Overweight primarily a problem among wealthier women in low- to middle-income countries." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101122152047.htm (accessed March 30, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Monday, March 30, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

S. Leone in New Anti-Ebola Lockdown

S. Leone in New Anti-Ebola Lockdown

AFP (Mar. 28, 2015) Sierra Leone imposed a three-day nationwide lockdown Friday for the second time in six months in a bid to prevent a resurgence of the deadly Ebola virus. Duration: 01:17 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
These Popular Antibiotics Can Cause Permanent Nerve Damage

These Popular Antibiotics Can Cause Permanent Nerve Damage

Newsy (Mar. 27, 2015) A popular class of antibiotic can leave patients in severe pain and even result in permanent nerve damage. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
WH Plan to Fight Antibiotic-Resistant Germs

WH Plan to Fight Antibiotic-Resistant Germs

AP (Mar. 27, 2015) The White House on Friday announced a five-year plan to fight the threat posed by antibiotic-resistant bacteria amid fears that once-treatable germs could become deadly. (March 27) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
House Ready to Pass Medicare Doc Bill

House Ready to Pass Medicare Doc Bill

AP (Mar. 26, 2015) In rare bipartisan harmony, congressional leaders pushed a $214 billion bill permanently blocking physician Medicare cuts toward House passage Thursday, moving lawmakers closer to resolving a problem that has plagued them for years. (March 26) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins