How Does Your Income Affect Your Risk of Obesity?

According to two recently released reports by the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics NCHS), the obesity epidemic has spread across the economic spectrum.

On Tuesday, two reports were released by the NCHS which is now part of the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention, compared data on obesity rates from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.  Specifically, this data include information compared from 1988 to 1994 and 2005 to 2008.

During that time period, the prevalence of obesity increased in adults across all education and income levels.  What’s more is that the study authors also found that the same general trend held true for children too.

The data also notes that nearly one out of three Americans are now obese while 17% of children and adolescents also fit the criteria (Body Mass Index >30).

The Evolution of Obesity

Obesity Risk in Adults:

  • With respect to education, no significant trends were found for men between obesity and educational attainment.
  • Among men, obesity prevalence is mostly similar across various income levels.  However, men with higher incomes from non-Hispanic black and Mexican-American men were more likely to be obese than their lower-income counterparts.
  • For women, those with higher education were less likely to be obese.
  • Women who have higher income levels are less likely to be obese than their lower-income counterparts, though most obese women are not from low-income groups.
  • Between 1988-94 and 2007-8, the prevalence of obesity in adults increased across all income and educational levels.

Associations Found with Childhood Obesity:

  • Among children, low family income was linked to a higher likelihood of obesity, though not across all racial and ethnic groups.
  • Conversely, most obese children and adolescents are not from low-income groups.
  • Children raised in homes where the head of the household had a college degree were less likely to be obese.
  • The prevalence of childhood obesity has increased across all income and educational levels between 1988-1994 and 2008-8.

For a related review of a study about how income affects your health itself follow the link.




7 thoughts on “How Does Your Income Affect Your Risk of Obesity?

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  • December 14, 2010 at 4:47 pm

    Goes to show that people who are educated to understand what good nutrition is can make healthy choices. More effort/money needs to be put into educating people rather than tweaking restaurant menus.

    • December 17, 2010 at 7:19 am

      Deb, that’s a great point. With the current obesity epidemic, education itself could go a very long way to helping people make better dietary choices.

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    • December 17, 2010 at 7:21 am

      Hey Alexandra, the rising prevalence of obesity certainly is astounding along with the associated health consequences.


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