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Obesity EpidemiologyFrom Aetiology to Public Health$
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David Crawford, Robert W. Jeffery, Kylie Ball, and Johannes Brug

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780199571512

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199571512.001.0001

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The role of socio-cultural factors in the obesity epidemic

The role of socio-cultural factors in the obesity epidemic

(p.105) Chapter 8 The role of socio-cultural factors in the obesity epidemic
Obesity Epidemiology

Kylie Ball

David Crawford

Oxford University Press

Obesity is socio-culturally distributed, i.e., the prevalence of obesity is known to vary according to socio-cultural factors, including socio-economic position (SEP), social roles and circumstance, and cultural factors. Further, these socio-cultural patterns are complex and specific to sex, age, and sometimes racial groups, as well as type of society, with patterns of relationships observed in developed countries sometimes reversed in developing countries. There is little doubt of the importance of the changing physical environment to the increases in obesity observed over several decades. However, far less attention has been paid to investigating the potential contribution of socio-cultural factors and to changes in the socio-cultural environment over time to the current obesity pandemic. The mechanisms through which socio-cultural factors may influence body weight and risk for obesity are not well understood. This chapter provides an overview of the effect of socio-cultural influences on obesity in developed countries and considers the potential pathways through which these influences may operate. It concludes by speculating on the potential effect of societal trends on future rates and patterns of obesity in developed countries.

Keywords:   socio-economic status, social position, cultural factors, body weight, obesity risk

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