Sex differences in obesity rates in poor countries: Evidence from South Africa
Globally, men and women face markedly different risks of obesity. In all but of handful of (primarily Western European) countries, obesity is much more prevalent among women than men. We examine several potential explanations for this phenomenon. We analyze differences between men and women in reports and effects of potential underlying causes of obesity--childhood and adult poverty, depression, and attitudes about obesity. We evaluate the evidence for each explanation using data collected in an urban African township in the Cape Town metropolitan area. Three factors explain the greater obesity rates we find among women. Women who were nutritionally deprived as children are significantly more likely to be obese as adults, while men who were deprived as children face no greater risk. In addition, women of higher adult socioeconomic status are significantly more likely to be obese, which is not true for men. These two factors - childhood circumstances and adult SES - can fully explain the difference in obesity rates between men and women that we find in our sample. More speculatively, in South Africa, women's perceptions of an [`]ideal' female body are larger than men's perceptions of the [`]ideal' male body, and individuals with larger [`]ideal' body images are significantly more likely to be obese.
If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.
References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Zagorsky, Jay L., 2005. "Health and wealth: The late-20th century obesity epidemic in the U.S," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 3(2), pages 296-313, July.
- Bergstrom, T.C., 1993.
"A Survey of Theories of the Family,"
93-02, Michigan - Center for Research on Economic & Social Theory.
- Osmani, Siddiq & Sen, Amartya, 2003. "The hidden penalties of gender inequality: fetal origins of ill-health," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 1(1), pages 105-121, January.
- Anne Case & Angus Deaton, 2006.
"Health and wellbeing in Udaipur and South Africa,"
163, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Research Program in Development Studies..
- Ulijaszek, Stanley J., 2003. "Trends in body size, diet and food availability in the Cook Islands in the second half of the 20th century," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 1(1), pages 123-137, January.
- Hoddinott, John & Haddad, Lawrence, 1995. "Does Female Income Share Influence Household Expenditures? Evidence from Cote d'Ivoire," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 57(1), pages 77-96, February.
- John Komlos & Ariane Breitfelder & Marco Sunder, 2008.
"The Transition to Post-industrial BMI Values Among US Children,"
NBER Working Papers
13898, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Komlos, John & Breitfelder, Ariane & Sunder, Marco, 2008. "The transition to Post-industrial BMI values among US children," Discussion Papers in Economics 4304, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
- Costa-Font, Joan & Gil, Joan, 2008. "Generational effects and gender height dimorphism in contemporary Spain," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 6(1), pages 1-18, March.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:ehbiol:v:7:y:2009:i:3:p:271-282. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Zhang, Lei)
If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.
If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.
If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.
Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.