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Conference Paper Understanding Society Scientific Conference 2015, 21-23 July 2015, University of Essex, Colchester, UK

Income-related inequalities in adiposity in the United Kingdom: evidence from multiple adiposity measures


Publication date

23 Jul 2015


Obesity is a key public health problem; rapidly increasing in prevalence
and being a significant predictor of subsequent poor health.
Socio-economic inequalities in adiposity are, therefore, of particular
interest themselves but also because they may contribute to broader
health inequalities. Focusing on income, the aim of this paper is to
better understand inequalities using concentration indexes (CI) and
decomposition techniques. Applying data from Understanding Society Wave 2
we estimate CI for body mass index (BMI), body composition (percentage
body fat, %BF) and central obesity (waist circumference, WC). CI are
then decomposed into the contribution of each of the adiposity
determinants to the total inequalities, in order to identify the
underlying factors shaping the income-related inequalities in adiposity.
In males, we found no income-related inequalities using BMI. However,
disentangling fat from lean-mass we show significant pro-rich
inequalities (fat-mass is more concentrated among the poor). %BF and WC
are associated with similar pro-rich inequalities (CI: -0.017 and -0.013
respectively; P<0.05). Results for females indicate the presence of
pro-rich inequalities irrespective of the adiposity measure (CI: ranged
between -0.020 and -0.031; P<0.01). Decomposition analysis revealed
that the pro-rich inequalities are due to correlation between income and
other determinants of adiposity. We found that educational attainment,
subjective financial status and material deprivation measures are
significant determinants of adiposity and make the most prominent
influence on explained these inequalities. This suggests that policy
efforts should to focus on upstream rather than proximal causes of


Medicine, Income Dynamics, and Health



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