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Link Between Poverty and Obesity is More Evident in Women

First Posted: Sep 18, 2014 02:30 AM EDT

A new research has found a strong association between poverty and obesity is more evident in women than in men.

In the recent decades, obesity has been highlighted as a major health issue. The obesity rate among adults has doubled. A report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on U.S. adults between 2005 and 2008 stated that as compared to higher income women, those from low income backgrounds were more likely to be obese. As income decreases, the prevalence of obesity increases among women.

Supporting this finding is the new research from the University of Texas, Austin, who found that adolescent girls from economically disadvantaged families were at a higher risk of becoming overweight or obese when compared to their male counterparts. They based their finding on the evaluation of the data retrieved from the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study.

According to study lead Tetyana Pudrovska, who is an assistant professor of sociology, this new study reveals the long lasting impact of economic difficulty in childhood for the risk of obesity in adulthood. There is an urgent need that programs and policies focus at the adverse health effects of socioeconomic disadvantage in childhood and adolescence.

The study looked at the patterns of weight gain among more than 10,000 men and women, right from high school graduation in 1957 to later stages of career in 1993. It was seen that those from socioeconomic disadvantage in early life had a higher body mass at the age of 18 years and a much greater risk of obesity at age 54 years. This association was more evident in women and was inconsistent among men.

Apart from the health risks, these obese/overweight women experience several social and economic disadvantages. When compared to peers with normal body weight, obese women are less likely to get important social resources that include education, occupational prestige and earnings.

"Girls born into socioeconomically disadvantaged families are exposed from early life to an unfolding chain of lower socioeconomic status and higher body mass," said Pudrovska, who is a faculty associate in the Population Research Center. "Women are more strongly impacted than men both by adverse effects of low socioeconomic status on obesity and by adverse effects of obesity on status attainment."

This cycle of poverty and obesity can be put to an end by cautioning the people on weight-based discrimination in the labor market.

The finding id published in the journal of Health and Social Behavior.

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