IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this article or follow this journal

Obesity, SES, and economic development: A test of the reversal hypothesis

  • Pampel, Fred C.
  • Denney, Justin T.
  • Krueger, Patrick M.
Registered author(s):

    Studies of individual countries suggest that socioeconomic status (SES) and weight are positively associated in lower-income countries but negatively associated in higher-income countries. However, this reversal in the direction of the SES-weight relationship and arguments about the underlying causes of the reversal need to be tested with comparable data for a large and diverse set of nations. This study systematically tests the reversal hypothesis using individual- and aggregate-level data for 67 nations representing all regions of the world. In support of the hypothesis, we find not only that the body mass index, being overweight, and being obese rise with national product but also that the associations of SES with these outcomes shift from positive to negative. These findings fit arguments about how health-related, SES-based resources, costs, and values differ across levels of economic development. Although economic and social development can improve health, it can also lead to increasing obesity and widening SES disparities in obesity.

    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.

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    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.

    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Social Science & Medicine.

    Volume (Year): 74 (2012)
    Issue (Month): 7 ()
    Pages: 1073-1081

    in new window

    Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:74:y:2012:i:7:p:1073-1081
    Contact details of provider: Web page:

    Order Information: Postal:

    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.:

    as in new window
    1. Ball, Kylie & Crawford, David, 2005. "Socioeconomic status and weight change in adults: a review," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 60(9), pages 1987-2010, May.
    2. Roskam, Albert-Jan R. & Kunst, Anton E. & Van Oyen, Herman & Demarest, Stefaan & Klumbiene, Jurate & Regidor, Enrique & Helmert, Uwe & Jusot, Florence & Dzurova, Dagmar, 2010. "Comparative appraisal of educational inequalities in overweight and obesity among adults in 19 European countries," Economics Papers from University Paris Dauphine 123456789/9988, Paris Dauphine University.
    3. Font, Joan Costa & Fabbri, Daniele & Gil, Joan, 2010. "Decomposing cross-country differences in levels of obesity and overweight: Does the social environment matter?," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 70(8), pages 1185-1193, April.
    4. 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.
    5. Kan, Kamhon & Tsai, Wei-Der, 2004. "Obesity and risk knowledge," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(5), pages 907-934, September.
    6. Popkin, Barry M., 2006. "Technology, transport, globalization and the nutrition transition food policy," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 31(6), pages 554-569, December.
    7. 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.
    8. Malena Monteverde & Kenya Noronha & Alberto Palloni & Beatriz Novak, 2010. "Obesity and excess mortality among the elderly in the United States and Mexico," Demography, Springer, vol. 47(1), pages 79-96, February.
    9. David Cutler & Edward Glaeser & Jesse Shapiro, 2003. "Why Have Americans Become More Obese?," NBER Working Papers 9446, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Ljungvall , Åsa & Gerdtham , Ulf-G, 2009. "More equal but heavier: A longitudinal analysis of income-related obesity inequalities in an adult Swedish cohort," Working Papers 2009:3, Lund University, Department of Economics.
    11. David M. Cutler & Edward L. Glaeser, 2006. "Why Do Europeans Smoke More than Americans?," NBER Working Papers 12124, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. Deon Filmer & Lant Pritchett, 2001. "Estimating Wealth Effects Without Expenditure Data—Or Tears: An Application To Educational Enrollments In States Of India," Demography, Springer, vol. 38(1), pages 115-132, February.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

    When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:74:y:2012:i:7:p:1073-1081. 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.

    This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.