How does prosperity affect our diet?
More and more children and adults today are overweight or have already developed obesity. Researchers have now found that children from financially disadvantaged households are almost twice as likely to become obese in later life.
In their current study, the scientists from NHS Health Scotland found that children from poorly off families are significantly more likely to develop obesity. The doctors published the results of their study in the trade journal "International Journal for Equity in Health".
More and more poor children are developing obesity
The rate of children who are obese during school time in wealthy areas in Scotland is around seven percent, while the value of the most underprivileged children is almost twice as high (13 percent). The poorest children in Scotland are becoming increasingly obese, and this effect cannot be observed in children from wealthy areas, the experts explain.
Many Scots are obese
Overall, 29 percent of women and 28 percent of men ages 18 to 64 in Scotland are obese, the researchers say. The proportion of people with obesity among Scots has been largely stable since 2008. The current study analyzed the most recent data from 2015 and 2016. The experts found that adults from the most arrogant regions of Scotland have the lowest rates of obesity. By contrast, people from disadvantaged areas were significantly more obese.
Obesity on the rise
The proportion of overweight women in Scotland has almost doubled over the past twenty years. It rose from 31 percent in 1995 to 60 percent in 2015. Over the same period, the percentage of overweight men rose to 66 percent.
How can we prevent rising obesity?
The current study concludes that measures to reduce the so-called obesogenic environment are urgently needed if long-term health and social consequences of obesity are to be reduced.
In the past, rather rich people suffered from obesity
In the past, obesity was more common among wealthy groups because they were the only ones who could afford to overeat. This trend has now reversed and there are now higher rates of obesity among financially disadvantaged people. The reasons for this are complex and multifactorial. For example, they include the affordability and availability of high-fat and high-sugar foods, as well as lack of activity and exercise.
Structural changes at the social level are necessary
The study results make it clear that people from the most financially disadvantaged sections of our society experience the greatest burden from obesity, the experts explain. A focus on actions that both make it easier for individuals to lose weight and bring about a structural change at the societal level is necessary to achieve a decrease in obesity among the population. Measures also need to be taken to change food availability, the experts explain. This ensures that the healthier alternative is also the more readily available choice for all people. The latest study shows that Scotland has made little progress in improving nutrition over the past 20 years. (as)