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Obesity under affluence varies by welfare regimes: the effect of fast food, insecurity, and inequality

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  • Avner Offer

    (All Souls College, University of Oxford, OX1 4AL, UK)

  • Rachel Pechey

    (Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology, University of Oxford, OX2 6PE, UK)

  • Stanley Ulijaszek

    (Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology, University of Oxford, OX2 6PE, UK)

Abstract

Among affluent countries, those with market-liberal welfare regimes (which are also English-speaking) tend to have the highest prevalence of obesity. The impact of cheap, accessible high-energy food is often invoked in explanation. An alternative approach is that overeating is a response to stress, and that competition, uncertainty and inequality make market-liberal societies more stressful. This ecological regression meta-study pools 96 body-weight surveys from 11 countries c. 1994-2004. The fast-food ‘shock’ impact is found to work most strongly in market liberal countries. Economic insecurity, measured in several different ways, was almost twice as powerful, while the impact of inequality was weak, and went in the opposite direction.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Economics Group, Nuffield College, University of Oxford in its series Oxford University Economic and Social History Series with number _082.

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Length: 28 pages
Date of creation: 15 Jul 2010
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:nuf:esohwp:_082

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Web page: http://www.nuff.ox.ac.uk/economics/

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References

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  1. Avner Offer, 2008. "British Manual Workers: From Producers to Consumers, c. 1950-2000," Economics Series Working Papers Paper 74, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  2. Andrea Brandolini & Anthony B. Atkinson, 2001. "Promise and Pitfalls in the Use of "Secondary" Data-Sets: Income Inequality in OECD Countries As a Case Study," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 39(3), pages 771-799, September.
  3. Trenton Smith, 2006. "Reconciling Psychology with Economics - Obesity, Behavioral Biology, and Rational Overeating," Working Papers 2006-4, School of Economic Sciences, Washington State University.
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  5. Darius Lakdawalla & Tomas Philipson & Jay Bhattacharya, 2005. "Welfare-Enhancing Technological Change and the Growth of Obesity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(2), pages 253-257, May.
  6. Cutler, David & Shapiro, Jesse & Glaeser, Edward, 2003. "Why Have Americans Become More Obese," Scholarly Articles 2640583, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  7. David M. Cutler & Edward L. Glaeser & Jesse M. Shapiro, 2003. "Why Have Americans Become More Obese?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 17(3), pages 93-118, Summer.
  8. Smith Trenton G. & Stoddard Christiana & Barnes Michael G, 2009. "Why the Poor Get Fat: Weight Gain and Economic Insecurity," Forum for Health Economics & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 12(2), pages 1-31, June.
  9. Tomas J. Philipson & Richard A. Posner, 2008. "Is the Obesity Epidemic a Public Health Problem? A Review of Zoltan J. Acs and Alan Lyles's Obesity, Business and Public Policy," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 46(4), pages 974-82, December.
  10. Andrew J. Oswald & Nattavudh Powdthavee, 2007. "Review 1: Obesity, Unhappiness, and The Challenge of Affluence: Theory and Evidence," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 117(521), pages 441-454, 06.
  11. Oswald, Andrew J & Powdthavee, Nattavudh, 2007. "Obesity, Unhappiness, and The Challenge of Affluence : Theory and Evidence," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 793, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  12. Heather Scott-Marshall, 2010. "The Social Patterning of Work-Related Insecurity and its Health Consequences," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 96(2), pages 313-337, April.
  13. Shin-Yi Chou & Michael Grossman & Henry Saffer, 2002. "An Economic Analysis of Adult Obesity: Results from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System," NBER Working Papers 9247, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Ulijaszek, Stanley J., 2007. "Frameworks of population obesity and the use of cultural consensus modeling in the study of environments contributing to obesity," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 5(3), pages 443-457, December.
  15. Offer, Avner, 2007. "The Challenge of Affluence: Self-Control and Well-Being in the United States and Britain since 1950," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199216628.
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Cited by:
  1. Paul A. David & S. Ryan Johansson & Andrea Pozzi, 2010. "The Demography of an Early Mortality Transition: Life Expectancy, Survival and Mortality Rates for Britain's Royals, 1500-1799," Oxford University Economic and Social History Series _083, Economics Group, Nuffield College, University of Oxford.
  2. Smith, Trenton G. & Stillman, Steven & Craig, Stuart, 2013. "The U.S. Obesity Epidemic:New Evidence from the Economic Security Index," 2013 Annual Meeting, August 4-6, 2013, Washington, D.C. 151419, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
  3. Avner Offer, 2012. "A Warrant for Pain: Caveat Emptor vs. the Duty of Care in American Medicine, c. 1970-2010," Oxford University Economic and Social History Series _102, Economics Group, Nuffield College, University of Oxford.
  4. Costa-Font, Joan & Hernández-Quevedo, Cristina & Jiménez-Rubio, Dolores, 2014. "Income inequalities in unhealthy life styles in England and Spain," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 13(C), pages 66-75.
  5. Eric Schneider, 2012. "Prices and Production: Agricultural Supply Response in Fourteenth-Century England," Oxford University Economic and Social History Series _097, Economics Group, Nuffield College, University of Oxford.
  6. Zeljko, Hrvojka Marija & Škarić-Jurić, Tatjana & Narančić, Nina Smolej & Barešić, Ana & Tomas, Željka & Petranović, Matea Zajc & Miličić, Jasna & Salihović, Marijana Peričić & Janićijev, 2013. "Age trends in prevalence of cardiovascular risk factors in Roma minority population of Croatia," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 11(3), pages 326-336.
  7. Chavas, Jean-Paul, 2013. "On the microeconomics of food and malnutrition under endogenous discounting," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 59(C), pages 80-96.
  8. Romling, Cornelia & Qaim, Matin, 2011. "Direct and Indirect Determinants of Obesity: The Case of Indonesia," Discussion Papers 108350, Georg-August-Universitaet Goettingen, GlobalFood, Department of Agricultural Economics and Rural Development.
  9. Römling, Cornelia & Qaim, Matin, 2011. "Direct and Indirect Determinants of Obesity: The Case of Indonesia," Proceedings of the German Development Economics Conference, Berlin 2011 |aGlobalFood Discussion P, Verein für Socialpolitik, Research Committee Development Economics.
  10. Ulijaszek, Stanley & Schwekendiek, Daniel, 2013. "Intercontinental differences in overweight of adopted Koreans in the United States and Europe," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 11(3), pages 345-350.
  11. Nicholas Rohde & Kam Ki Tang & Prasada Rao, 2011. "Income volatility and insecurity in the U.S., Germany and Britain," Discussion Papers Series 434, School of Economics, University of Queensland, Australia.
  12. Roemling, Cornelia & Qaim, Matin, 2012. "Obesity Trends, Determinants and Policy Implications in Indonesia," 2012 Conference, August 18-24, 2012, Foz do Iguacu, Brazil 126208, International Association of Agricultural Economists.
  13. Robert J. B. Goudie & Sach Mukherjee & Jan-Emmanuel De Neve & Andrew J. Oswald & Stephen Wu, 2011. "Happiness as a Driver of Risk-Avoiding Behavior," CESifo Working Paper Series 3451, CESifo Group Munich.
  14. Ferda Halicioglu, 2013. "Dynamics of obesity in Finland," Journal of Economic Studies, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 40(5), pages 644 - 657, September.
  15. Komlos, John & Brabec, Marek, 2011. "The trend of BMI values of US adults by deciles, birth cohorts 1882-1986 stratified by gender and ethnicity," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 9(3), pages 234-250, July.
  16. Hruschka, Daniel J. & Brewis, Alexandra A., 2013. "Absolute wealth and world region strongly predict overweight among women (ages 18–49) in 360 populations across 36 developing countries," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 11(3), pages 337-344.
  17. Ljungvall, Åsa, 2013. "The Freer the Fatter? A Panel Study of the Relationship between Body-Mass Index and Economic Freedom," Working Papers 2013:23, Lund University, Department of Economics.
  18. Joan Costa-i-Font & Núria Mas & Patricia Navarro, 2013. "Globesity: is globalization a pathway to obesity?," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 49488, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  19. Egger, Garry & Swinburn, Boyd & Amirul Islam, F.M., 2012. "Economic growth and obesity: An interesting relationship with world-wide implications," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 10(2), pages 147-153.

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