Monday, December 26, 2011

Obesity and Economic Inequality

In The Great Divergence - Part III, Panderbear discussed the fact that economic inequality is a root cause of many social ills. Because "obesity and economic inequality" has lately appeared among search terms leading readers to the Liar! Liar! blog, Panderbear decided to give this topic some special attention. The subject seems particularly apropos as many of us struggle to digest outsized Christmas dinners.

This chart from a Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health research report plots the percentage of obese women vs the ratio of the top 20% to bottom 20% in income for 21 developed countries. Note that Japan is in the bottom-left corner with the lowest income divergence and the lowest obesity, while the U.S. is an outlier way up in the top-right with both the highest income disparity and the highest obesity rate. The chart for males is quite similar.

Obesity Rates  Correlated with Income Divergence

In developed countries greater rates of obesity are correlated with income divergence. Obesity is rapidly becoming the single greatest health problem in America. Research suggests that addressing wealth disparity would have a salutary effect on this social ill.

As we have seen in previous posts, wealth disparity and income divergence can be traced directly to Republican economic policies. Adding insult to injury Republicans have panned Michele Obama's efforts to reduce obesity among children. Panderbear finds the Republicans' penchant for putting the small government pander ahead of the health of our nation's children particularly offensive.

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