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 more prevalent among women than men. In this paper, we examine several potential explanations for this phenomenon. We analyze differences between men and women in reports and effects of the proximate causes of obesity -- physical exertion and food intake -- and the 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 African township outside of Cape Town. 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 can fully explain the difference in obesity rates we find in our sample. Finally (and more speculatively), 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.
|Date of creation:||Oct 2007|
|Date of revision:|
|Publication status:||published as Case, Anne & Menendez, Alicia, 2009. "Sex differences in obesity rates in poor countries: Evidence from South Africa," Economics and Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 7(3), pages 271-282, December.|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.|
Web page: http://www.nber.org
More information through EDIRC
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.:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Zhehui Luo & Ren Mu & Xiaobo Zhang, 2006. "Famine and Overweight in China ," Review of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 28(3), pages 296-304.
- repec:pri:cheawb:case_deaton_health_wellbeing_udaipur_sa_05_%20revisedjan06 is not listed on IDEAS
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:13541. 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: ()
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.