CitationGraham, Carol & Felton, Andrew (2005). Variance in obesity across cohorts and countries: a norms-based explanation using happiness surveys.
AbstractWe use well being surveys to help explain the variance in obesity incidence across socioeconomic cohorts in the United States and Russia, with a focus on the role of norms. In the U.S., obesity is largely a poor people's problem, and the same groups suffer higher well being costs from being obese. Poor whites have higher obesity-related well being costs than blacks or Hispanics. Respondents in the top income quintile who are obese and those who depart from the weight norm for their profession also suffer higher well being costs than the average. Stigma seems to be higher for those in higher status professions. We find modest evidence that causality runs from overweight to depression rather than the other way around. In Russia, in contrast, obesity and well being are positively correlated. The relationship seems to be driven by the prosperity that is associated with obesity rather than by the excess weight per se, and we find no evidence of stigma. In both countries, there is a wide margin in both countries for tailoring public health messages to marshal the attention of very different cohorts.