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Insecurity, Inequality, and Obesity in Affluent Societies$
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Avner Offer, Rachel Pechey, and Stanley Ulijaszek

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780197264980

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: January 2013

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197264980.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM BRITISH ACADEMY SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.britishacademy.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright British Academy, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in BASO for personal use.date: 17 September 2021

Subordination, Stress, and Obesity

Subordination, Stress, and Obesity

(p.105) Chapter 6 Subordination, Stress, and Obesity
Insecurity, Inequality, and Obesity in Affluent Societies

Ruth Bell

Amina Aitsi-Selmi

Michael Marmot

British Academy

The distribution of obesity in developed countries follows a social gradient. In developing countries, a similar pattern is emerging as national per capita income rises. The epidemiological evidence runs counter to the popular opinion that being overweight and obesity are matters solely of individual lifestyle choices or genetics. Both are important, but in themselves do not explain the social gradient in being overweight and obesity, to understand which, one needs to look at wider social influences. Evidence from studies including the Whitehall Study of British civil servants indicates that psychosocial factors, including stress, as well as material factors associated with position in the social hierarchy, contribute to the distribution of being overweight and obesity, particularly central adiposity, in the population.

Keywords:   obesity, developed countries, developing countries, epidemiology, social gradient, Whitehall Study, British civil servants, psychosocial factors, hierarchy, stress

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