Toggle Main Menu Toggle Search

Open Access padlockePrints

Are inequalities in overweight, obesity and high waist-hip ratio among English adults widening?

Lookup NU author(s): Elaine Stamp, Denise Howel, Dr Thomas Chadwick, Professor Ashley AdamsonORCiD, Professor Martin White


Full text for this publication is not currently held within this repository. Alternative links are provided below where available.


Background: Understanding the social patterning of obesity is important for developing effective interventions. Socioeconomic inequalities in measures of excess body weight have been reported, but it is unclear how these patterns are changing over time. Objectives: To investigate the social patterning of overweight, obesity and high waist–hip ratio (WHR) among adults in England between 1991 and 2004. Methods: Analyses used annual Health Survey for England data from 1991 to 2004. Logistic regression was used to model the relationship between obesity (body mass index ⩾30 kg/m2), overweight (body mass index ⩾25 kg/m2), high WHR (⩾0.95 in men, ⩾0.85 in women) and explanatory variables including age, gender and socioeconomic position, categorised by occupational social class and educational attainment. Results: The prevalence of obesity in English adults rose from 15% in 1991 to 24% in 2004. There were similar increases in the prevalence of overweight and high WHR over this time period. The increases in obesity and overweight over time were proportionately greater in men than women, although women had higher levels of obesity overall. In all survey years, the prevalence of all outcomes increased with age up to 60–74 years. The prevalence of obesity and overweight increased more rapidly with age in men than in women. The prevalence of obesity, overweight and high WHR was higher among adults in the manual social class compared with adults in the non-manual social class and among adults who had left school aged 16 years or younger compared with those who left after 16 years. For example, the odds ratio for obese men in manual occupations was 1.2 (95% CI 1.15 to 1.25) and for women 1.6 (95% CI 1.58 to 1.70). These associations were statistically significant, except for that between occupation and being overweight in men. Adding interaction terms between year and either measure of socioeconomic position showed little evidence of a socioeconomic widening gap over time for either men or women for any outcome. Conclusions: The prevalence of obesity has increased steadily, presenting major challenges for public health. However, there is little evidence that the gap between higher and lower socioeconomic groups has altered since the early 1990s.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Chadwick T; Stamp E; White M; Adamson A; Howel D

Publication type: Conference Proceedings (inc. Abstract)

Publication status: Published

Conference Name: 52nd Annual Scientific Meeting of the Society for Social Medicine

Year of Conference: 2008

Pages: A30-A30

ISSN: 0141-7681

Publisher: BMJ Group


Notes: Abstract no. 082.

Library holdings: Search Newcastle University Library for this item

Series Title: Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health

ISBN: 14702738