Obesity and income inequality in OECD countries

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) exhibit substantial increases in both income inequality and obesity prevalence since the 1970s. Income inequality may affect obesity through increased psychosocial distress, concentrated poverty, erosion of social cohesion, and inadequate policy interventions. Substantial variations appear in estimated obesity prevalence across OECD countries in 2010. Particularly important are the United States and Mexico, which lead OECD countries in current obesity rates, income inequality, and the pace of increases in obesity prevalence over time. When both countries are included in the analysis, differences in obesity prevalence are more related to differences in income inequality than to differences in absolute income across these countries. This association between income inequality and obesity prevalence virtually disappears when both countries are excluded from analysis. So far, limited research exploring the association between income inequality and obesity has not yielded conclusive, unequivocal findings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of Economics and Human Biology
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9780199389292
StatePublished - Aug 6 2015


  • Income distribution
  • Income inequality
  • Mexico
  • Obesity
  • OECD countries
  • United States

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance(all)
  • General Business, Management and Accounting


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