Weight perceptions, weight control and income: An analysis using British data
The aim of this paper is to better understand one of the mechanisms underlying the income–obesity relationship so that effective policy interventions can be developed. Our approach involves analysing data on approximately 9000 overweight British adults from between 1997 and 2002. We estimate the effect of income on the probability that an overweight individual correctly recognises their overweight status and the effect of income on the probability that an overweight individual attempts to lose weight. The results suggest that high income individuals are more likely to recognise their unhealthy weight status, and conditional on this correct weight perception, more likely to attempt weight loss. For example, it is estimated that overweight high income males are 15 percentage-points more likely to recognise their overweight status than overweight low income males, and overweight high income males are 10 percentage-points more likely to be trying to lose weight. An implication of these results is that more public education on what constitutes overweight and the dangers associated with being overweight is needed, especially in low income neighbourhoods.
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