Obesity and socioeconomic status in Argentina
Malena Monteverde, Dora Celton, Enrique Peláez, Claudia Chaufan
Background: In 2001 Argentina experienced the worst economic depression in the country’s history, yet few researchers have examined the nutritional status of Argentines vis-à-vis key socioeconomic indicators as the country recovered from its economic crisis. Methods: We used the 2009 National Survey of Risk Factors (ENFR) to examine the association between socioeconomic status (SES) -- income and education -- and risk of being overweight or obese five years after the crisis. We estimated logistic regression models with weight as dependent variable and income, education, age, and gender as independent variables. Results: About 50% of the Argentine population 18 and older was overweight or obese in 2009. Low weight, while not high, was higher in women than in men. There were gender differences in the association between overweight/obesity and socioeconomic status. Among men, overweight increased as income and education increased, whereas among women the reverse was generally true. With obesity, while rates decreased overall with income and education among both genders, the lowest rates were found among the lowest and second lowest income groups of women and men, respectively. Conclusion: Findings are compatible with both high-income and low- and middle-income countries. As in high income countries, income and education appear to be overall protective of obesity, although this is not true for overweight. Among certain population subgroups, low weight rather than obesity may be the public health problem to be tackled. Argentina needs to tailor public health and social, including economic policies to fit a complex landscape of wealth and poverty to address the problem of overweight/obesity prevalent across a spectrum of income and educational levels.