SES and Obesity: Gender as Moderator and the Effects of Measurement

Rebecca Benson, University of Texas at Austin

In the case of obesity, the familiar SES-health gradient appears to be moderated by gender; SES measures like education and income are highly predictive of women’s obesity but have little predictive power for men. Explanations for this difference have focused on the greater social and economic consequences for women of overweight and obesity. Issues of SES measurement have been given little attention in this context. Many of the factors thought to mediate the relationship between SES and weight are common to all individuals within a household, yet SES proxies – with the exception of income and wealth – are typically measured at the level of the individual. In this study, I use Health and Retirement Study (HRS) data to develop household-level SES measures and use these measures to re-examine the relationship between SES and obesity. In particular, I explore whether the gender-specific features of this relationship endure with a household-level SES measure.

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Presented in Poster Session 3: Health of Women, Children, and Families