Because more equal societies work better for everyone


In brief / Body
In Brief

Obesity is less common in more equal societies.

In detail
In More Detail
Obesity among men and women is related to income inequality in rich countries.

Obesity is increasing rapidly throughout the developed world. In some countries rates have doubled in just a few years. In the USA, three-quarters of the population are overweight, and close to a third are obese. In the UK, two-thirds of adults are overweight and more than a fifth are obese. Obesity increases the risk of hypertension, late onset diabetes, cardiovascular disease, gallbladder disease, and some cancers. The trends in children's obesity are likely to lead to shorter life expectancies for today's children - this would be the first reversal in life expectancy since the nineteenth century.

We found that obesity among men and women (see graph), as well as calorie intake and deaths from diabetes, are related to income inequality in rich countries. In addition, obesity in adults is also related to inequality in the 50 US states; and the percentage of children who are overweight is related to inequality both internationally and in the USA.

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