- Higher education, rather than income, protects women in disadvantaged neighborhoods from obesity.
Education level may be associated with greater access to health
information and the capacity to understand and use health information.
Researchers have been studying the relationship between body mass index and socioeconomic status
for years, agreeing, for the most part, that women in areas with fewer
economic resources have higher BMIs than women in more affluent
But a new study published in the American Journal of Health
Promotion, shows that higher education, rather than income, may actually
be the thing that protects women in disadvantaged neighborhoods in the
battle of the bulge.
Take a look at why researchers say education trumps income in the
fight against obesity, and more notes on the black health chart this
mailed surveys to a large random sample of more than 4,000 women,
ages 18 to 45, living in low-income towns and suburbs in Victoria. Women
reported height, weight, education and personal income.
The authors wanted to examine the role of amplified disadvantage —
defined in the study as having a disadvantage in both education and
income — and of status inconsistency, defined as disadvantage in either
education or income, on BMI, Williams said.
Women of amplified disadvantage, those living in disadvantaged
neighborhoods with both low education and personal income, may be at
higher risk for high BMI, the authors determined. Those factors “should
be at the forefront of obesity prevention initiatives,” they wrote.
"This is a carefully conducted analysis of Australian data,” said
Frederick J. Zimmerman, Ph.D., who is the Fred W. and Pamela K.
Wasserman Professor and Chair of the Department of Health Policy &
Management in the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health. “Because only
low-income women were studied, it isn't clear to what extent the results
would apply to higher-income women, to men or to non-Australians. It
has often been suggested that obesity happens because low-income people
cannot afford high-quality food. Yet this study's results suggest an
alternative narrative: that it is education, and not income, that
constrains people's ability to eat healthfully.”