Obesity Rates Increasing Among Wealthy

DECEMBER 01, 2005
Susan Farley

A data review of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey suggests that obesity has increased significantly among higher-income groups, compared with groups with lower incomes. Weight gain over a 30-year period was reviewed, and the greatest increase was found among middle-income black women, a group that experienced a 27% increase in obesity, compared with a 15% increase among poor black women. Among black men earning the most income, obesity increased by 21%, compared with an increase of 5% among black men earning the least income. Wealthy white women showed the smallest increase in obesity rates. As white women of all economic levels gain weight, those in the highest income bracket appear to be maintaining their weight over the same length of time. Factors associated with weight gain may include more sedentary jobs, sedentary leisure activities, increased portion sizes, and increased food advertising. Study authors suggested that wealthy white women "may be more able to resist these forces or take compensatory action."

Ms. Farley is a freelance medical writer based in Wakefield, RI.