Obesity under Affluence Varies by Welfare Regimes
Offer A., Pechey R., Ulijaszek S.
© The British Academy 2012. All rights reserved. Among affluent countries, those with market-liberal regimes (which are also Englishspeaking) 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 marketliberal countries. Economic insecurity, measured in several different ways, is almost twice as powerful, while the impact of inequality is weak.