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BMC Public Health. 2012; 12: 18.
Published online Jan 9, 2012. doi:  10.1186/1471-2458-12-18
PMCID: PMC3293718
Unevenly distributed: a systematic review of the health literature about socioeconomic inequalities in adult obesity in the United Kingdom
Abdulrahman M El-Sayed,corresponding author1,2,3 Peter Scarborough,1 and Sandro Galea2
1British Heart Foundation Health Promotion Research Group, Department of Public Health, University of Oxford, Richards Building Old Road Campus Headington, Oxford, UK OX3 7LF
2Department of Epidemiology, Columbia University, New York, NY, USA
3College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University, New York, NY, USA
corresponding authorCorresponding author.
Abdulrahman M El-Sayed: ame2145/at/columbia.edu; Peter Scarborough: peter.scarborough/at/dph.ox.ac.uk; Sandro Galea: sgalea/at/columbia.edu
Received August 6, 2011; Accepted January 9, 2012.
Abstract
Background
There is a growing literature documenting socioeconomic inequalities in obesity risk among adults in the UK, with poorer groups suffering higher risk.
Methods
In this systematic review, we summarize and appraise the extant peer-reviewed literature about socioeconomic inequalities in adult obesity risk in the UK published between 1980 and 2010. Only studies featuring empirical assessments of relations between socioeconomic indicators and measures of obesity among adults in the UK were included.
Results
A total of 35 articles met inclusion criteria, and were reviewed here.
Conclusion
Socioeconomic indicators of low socioeconomic position (SEP), including occupational social class of the head-of-household at birth and during childhood, earlier adulthood occupational social class, contemporaneous occupational social class, educational attainment, and area-level deprivation were generally inversely associated with adult obesity risk in the UK. Measures of SEP were more predictive of obesity among women than among men. We outline important methodological limitations to the literature and recommend avenues for future research.
Keywords: Adiposity, Overweight, Socioeconomic position, Socioeconomic status, Social class, Education, Income, Disparities, Deprivation, England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland
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