Poverty equals obesity? Study bucks common wisdom

Tue Dec 14, 2010 5:19pm EST
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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Women who are poor are much more likely to be obese but men are not, U.S. government researchers said on Tuesday in a report that contradicts some common perceptions.

They found income does not greatly affect whether a man is obese but that education seems to affect both sexes.

"Among men, obesity prevalence is generally similar at all income levels, with a tendency to be slightly higher at higher income levels," the team at the National Center for Health Statistics wrote.

Obesity is a growing problem for U.S. policymakers. Two thirds of Americans are overweight or obese, with 72 million U.S. adults, or 26.7 percent, being obese, with a body mass index or BMI, of 30 or more.

Several studies have linked obesity with both income and education.

The NCHS researchers used data from a national study of 5,000 people that is done every year.

Of the obese adults, 41 percent live in prosperous homes, bringing in at least $77,000 a year for a family of four, or 350 percent of poverty-level income.

They found 39 percent live in homes making between 130 percent and 350 percent of the poverty level, and 20 percent lived in poorer homes with incomes below 130 percent of the poverty level or $29,000 for a family of four.

They found that 33 percent of men living in well-to-do households with income at 350 percent of the poverty level were obese, compared to 29 percent of men who lived below 130 percent of the poverty level.   Continued...