Obesity is on the increase among women in poor countries, according to new research. Until now, the disease has been most prevalent in rich industrialised nations.
Scientists at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil analysed data from 149,000 women in 37 countries, including Brazil, China and India. They found that poor and less educated women are most at risk from obesity, which increases the likelihood of a range of other illnesses, including heart disease, diabetes, bone disorders and some cancers.
The study shows that weight problems begin when a country's average per capita income reaches US$2,500. It cites less labour-intensive work, cheaper food, and a lack of awareness of health risks as driving forces behind the phenomenon.