Obesity under Affluence Varies by Welfare Regimes

Avner Offer, Rachel Pechey and Stanley Ulijaszek

in Insecurity, Inequality, and Obesity in Affluent Societies

Published by British Academy

Published in print April 2012 | ISBN: 9780197264980
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191754135 | DOI:

Series: Proceedings of the British Academy

Obesity under Affluence Varies by Welfare Regimes

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Among affluent countries, those with market-liberal regimes (which are also English-speaking) tend to have the highest prevalence of obesity. The impact of cheap, accessible high-energy food is often invoked in explanation. An alternative approach is that overeating is a response to stress, and that competition, uncertainty and inequality make market-liberal societies more stressful. This chapter reports an ecological regression meta-study that pools 96 surveys from 11 countries, using data collected in the years 1994 to 2004. The fast-food ‘shock’ impact is found to work most strongly in market-liberal countries. Economic insecurity, measured in several different ways, is almost twice as powerful, while the impact of inequality is weak.

Keywords: obesity; affluent countries; market-liberal regimes; English-speaking regimes; high-energy food; ecological regression; fast food; economic insecurity; inequality

Chapter.  8253 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Health, Illness, and Medicine

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