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Socioeconomic inequality of obesity in the United States: do gender, age, and ethnicity matter?


  • Zhang, Qi
  • Wang, Youfa


This study introduces the concentration index (CI) to assess socioeconomic inequality in the distribution of obesity among American adults aged 18-60 years old. The CI provides a summary measure of socioeconomic inequality, and enabled comparisons across gender, age, and ethnicity. Data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey III, 1988-1994 (NHANES III) were used. The degree of socioeconomic inequality in obesity varied considerably across gender, age, and ethnic groups. Among women, we found a stronger, inverse association between socioeconomic status (SES) and obesity compared with men, as well as greater socioeconomic inequality among middle-aged adults (41-49) compared to other age groups. Consistent with previous studies, we found remarkable ethnic differences in the relationship between SES and obesity. Although the extant literature documented a higher prevalence of obesity among minorities than in whites, our results presented a lower socioeconomic inequality in obesity within minority groups. Our analyses suggested that gender, age, and ethnicity could be important factors on socioeconomic inequality in obesity.

Suggested Citation

  • Zhang, Qi & Wang, Youfa, 2004. "Socioeconomic inequality of obesity in the United States: do gender, age, and ethnicity matter?," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 58(6), pages 1171-1180, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:58:y:2004:i:6:p:1171-1180

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