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Using relative distributions to investigate the body mass index in England and Canada


  • Paul Contoyannis

    (Department of Economics, McMaster University, Canada)

  • John Wildman


In this paper we use relative distributions to examine changes in the distribution of the body mass index (BMI) in England and Canada during the period 1994|5-2000|1. The use of relative distributions allows us to describe changes in the whole distribution of the BMI in a non-parametric fashion. While statistics analogous to the Gini index can be constructed based on the relative distribution, important characteristics of changes in the distribution of the BMI such as changes in the proportions overweight and obese are more naturally handled using measures of relative polarization. Our results show that while BMI has increased in both countries, BMI in England has increased at a much faster rate than in Canada. Both groups show polarization over time towards both tails of the weight distribution, with the English polarizing towards the upper tail at a faster rate than Canadians. Copyright © 2007 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Suggested Citation

  • Paul Contoyannis & John Wildman, 2007. "Using relative distributions to investigate the body mass index in England and Canada," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 16(9), pages 929-944.
  • Handle: RePEc:wly:hlthec:v:16:y:2007:i:9:p:929-944 DOI: 10.1002/hec.1240

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Anderson, Gordon, 2004. "Toward an empirical analysis of polarization," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 122(1), pages 1-26, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. Rudoler, David & Laporte, Audrey & Barnsley, Janet & Glazier, Richard H. & Deber, Raisa B., 2015. "Paying for primary care: A cross-sectional analysis of cost and morbidity distributions across primary care payment models in Ontario Canada," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 124(C), pages 18-28.
    2. 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.
    3. Judith A. Clarke & Ahmed A. Hoque, 2014. "On Variance Estimation for a Gini Coefficient Estimator Obtained from Complex Survey Data," Econometrics Working Papers 1401, Department of Economics, University of Victoria.
    4. Costa-Font, Joan & Fabbri, Daniele & Gil, Joan, 2009. "Decomposing body mass index gaps between Mediterranean countries: A counterfactual quantile regression analysis," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 7(3), pages 351-365, December.
    5. Luis Fernando Gamboa & Nohora Y. Forero Ramírez, 2009. "Body mass index as a standard of living measure: a different interpretation for the case of Colombia," DOCUMENTOS DE TRABAJO 005218, UNIVERSIDAD DEL ROSARIO.
    6. Jamie Spinney & Hugh Millward, 2010. "Time and Money: A New Look at Poverty and the Barriers to Physical Activity in Canada," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 99(2), pages 341-356, November.
    7. Jones, Andrew M. & Rice, Nigel & Robone, Silvana & Dias, Pedro Rosa, 2011. "Inequality and polarisation in health systems' responsiveness: A cross-country analysis," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(4), pages 616-625, July.
    8. Joan Costa-Font & Daniele Fabbri & Joan Gil, 2008. "Decomposing Cross-Country Gaps in Obesity and Overweight: Does the Social Environment Matter?," Working Papers in Economics 205, Universitat de Barcelona. Espai de Recerca en Economia.
    9. Etile, Fabrice, 2014. "Education policies and health inequalities: Evidence from changes in the distribution of Body Mass Index in France, 1981–2003," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 13(C), pages 46-65.

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