Attitudes to body weight might explain some of the difference in weight across socioeconomic groups

Socioeconomic status and weight control practices in British adults 2001; 55:185-90

Attitudes to body weight and its control might explain some of the differences in weight across the UK class divide, shows a study in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

A random sample of 2690 households from the monthly Omnibus Survey of the Office of National Statistics was surveyed in March 1999. The survey aimed to find out about attitudes to weight and weight control among different socioeconomic groups.

Ideal weights differed little across the groups. Half of all the women interviewed and around four out of 10 men felt that they were overweight. And over 40 per cent of normal weight men and over half of normal weight women were watching their weight.

But women in the lowest socioeconomic group were almost three times as likely to be obese as women in the highest. And both men and women in this group were most likely to be overweight yet least likely to feel overweight. They were also significantly less likely to weigh themselves regularly, watch their weight, and to actively diet.

Despite having less of a weight problem, more men and women from the highest socioeconomic group were 'trying to lose weight' and fewer were 'not bothered about their weight' than people from the lowest socioeconomic group.

Around a third of men and one in five women exercised regularly, but women in the highest socioeconomic group exercised more than anyone else.

The authors conclude that part of the reason why people from higher socioeconomic groups tend to be thinner is that they are more concerned about their weight and invest more time and energy in controlling it.


Contact: BMA Press Office
BMJ Specialty Journals

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