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Absolute wealth and world region strongly predict overweight among women (ages 18–49) in 360 populations across 36 developing countries
Authors: Daniel J. Hruschka, and Alexandra A. Brewis
Source: Economics and Human Biology, 11(3):337-44. doi: 10.1016/j.ehb.2012.01.001.
Topic(s): Body Mass Index (BMI)
Women's health
Country: More than one region
  Multiple Regions
Published: JUL 2013
Abstract: This paper proposes a benchmark for comparing SES gradients across countries, based on gross domestic product apportioned to members of differing wealth categories within countries. Using this approach, we estimate absolute wealth in 360 populations in 36 developing countries and model its relationship with overweight (BMI 2: 25) among non- pregnant women ages 18–49. A simple model based on absolute wealth alone strongly predicts odds of overweight (R2 = 0.59), a relationship that holds both between countries and between different groups in the same country (10 populations for each of 36 countries). Moreover, world region modi?es this relationship, accounting for an additional 22% of variance (R2 = 0.81). This allows us to extract a basic pattern: rising rates of overweight in lower and middle income countries closely track increasing economic resources, and the shape of that gradient differs by region in systematic ways.