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Comparing Distributions of Body Mass Index Categories


  • Fatiha Bennia

    (SPMC - Santé Publique et maladies Chroniques : Qualité de vie Concepts, Usages et Limites, Déterminants - AMU - Aix Marseille Université - APHM - Assistance Publique - Hôpitaux de Marseille)

  • Nicolas Gravel

    (GREQAM - Groupement de Recherche en Économie Quantitative d'Aix-Marseille - ECM - École Centrale de Marseille - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - AMU - Aix Marseille Université - EHESS - École des hautes études en sciences sociales)

  • Brice Magdalou

    () (LAMETA - Laboratoire Montpelliérain d'Économie Théorique et Appliquée - UM1 - Université Montpellier 1 - UPVM - Université Paul-Valéry - Montpellier 3 - INRA - Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique - Montpellier SupAgro - Centre international d'études supérieures en sciences agronomiques - UM - Université de Montpellier - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - Montpellier SupAgro - Institut national d’études supérieures agronomiques de Montpellier - Institut Agro - Institut national d'enseignement supérieur pour l'agriculture, l'alimentation et l'environnement)

  • Patrick Moyes

    (GREThA - Groupe de Recherche en Economie Théorique et Appliquée - UB - Université de Bordeaux - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique)


This paper compares distributions of Body Mass Index (BMI) among men and women in France, the US and the UK on the basis of a new normative criterion. Comparing distributions of BMI from a normative standpoint is conceptually challenging because of the ordinal nature of the variable. Our normative criterion is well-suited to handle this issue. It coincides with the possibility of moving from the dominated distribution to the dominating one by a finite sequence of Hammond transfers and/or elementary efficiency gains. An additional difficulty with BMI is that it is not monotonically increasing (or decreasing) with health or well-being. We therefore perform our analysis by considering all health-consistent rankings of BMI values. Our empirical results are striking. For a large class of these rankings of BMI values, it is shown that the distribution of BMI in France has worsened on the period 2008-2010 for both men and women according to first order dominance. It is also shown that for most welfare rankings of BMI values, the distribution of BMI is worse in every period in the female population than in the male one in all three countries.

Suggested Citation

  • Fatiha Bennia & Nicolas Gravel & Brice Magdalou & Patrick Moyes, 2015. "Comparing Distributions of Body Mass Index Categories," Working Papers halshs-01174989, HAL.
  • Handle: RePEc:hal:wpaper:halshs-01174989
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    genders; equality; body weight; categorical variables;

    JEL classification:

    • I14 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health and Inequality
    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being
    • I32 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Measurement and Analysis of Poverty

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