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You are here : 3-RX.com > Home > Obesity -

The wealthy more apt to gain weight

ObesityOct 11, 05

Over the past three decades, obesity has increased more dramatically among higher-income groups than among the poor, a new study shows.

“Despite the fact that there is often a lot of attention surrounding the association between poverty and obesity, our study shows that it really is not typically the poor who are gaining the most the fastest,” Dr. Virginia W. Chang who led the study told Reuters Health. “This is especially true among blacks.”

Moreover, while attention has focused on poverty as a risk factor for obesity, the current study suggests that those living below the federal poverty line may not be the group at highest risk in the years to come, she added.

Chang, from the Philadelphia VA Medical Center and Dr. Diane S. Lauderdale of the University of Chicago looked at weight gain over 30 years by different income groups using data from four successive waves of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES).

They report in the current Archives of Internal Medicine that obesity has increased at all income levels over the last 30 years, but the degree of change varied significantly by socioeconomic status.

For example, among middle-income black women, obesity has increased 27 percent, compared with about 15 percent among poor black women. Among black men, obesity has increased 21 percent among those earning the most but only about 5 percent among those earning the least.

Among white women, however, the wealthiest showed the smallest rise in obesity. Chang explained that “for white women, everybody is gaining weight with time at every income but those at higher incomes continue to maintain the advantage through the entire period. That is, at any one period in time the wealthier white women have less obesity.”

In their report, Chang and Lauderdale note that diverse environmental factors are believed to have fueled the epidemic of obesity over the years, such as the move to a more sedentary service sector economy, the uptake of labor-saving devices and sedentary entertainment, as well as an over drop in the cost of food and a surge in food advertising and portion sizes.

Women at higher income levels may be more able to resist these forces or take compensatory action, thereby maintaining their relative advantage with time, the authors theorize.

SOURCE: Archives of Internal Medicine October 10, 2005.

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