UK: Obesity linked to insecurity in rich nations

People in wealthy countries with 'free market' economies are more likely to become obese, an Oxford University study says, reports the BBC. Money stresses in countries like the UK and US could explain their higher obesity levels, compared with countries such as Norway and Sweden.

The study, in Economic and Human Biology, compared obesity in 11 affluent countries from 1994 to 2004. Researchers set out to discover why Americans and Britons are heavier than Norwegians and Swedes. They analysed data from 96 national surveys carried out over 10 years across different countries.

They looked at 'market-liberal' countries including the US, UK, Canada and Australia. These were compared with Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Norway, Spain and Sweden - which traditionally offer stronger social protection and higher levels of economic security. "Policies to reduce levels of obesity tend to focus on encouraging people to look after themselves but this study suggests that obesity has larger social causes," said study leader Avner Offer, a professor of economic history at Oxford.
Full report on the BBC site