Objectives: To assess which socio-economic indicator best predicts overweight in the European Union: educational attainment, occupational class or household income. Setting: The prevalence of overweight is strongly related to socio-economic position. The relative importance of different socio-economic dimensions is uncertain, and might vary between countries. Design and subjects: Cross-sectional self-report data of the European Community Household Panel were obtained from nine countries (n 52 855; age 25-64 years). Uni- and multivariate regression analyses were employed to predict overweight (BMI ≥ 25 kg/m2) in relationship to socio-economic indicators. Occupational class was measured using the new European Socioeconomic Classification. Results: Large socio-economic differences in overweight were observed in all countries, especially for women. For both sexes, a low educational attainment was the strongest predictor of overweight. After controlling for education, overweight was negatively related to household income in women, but positively in men. Similar patterns were found for occupational class. For women, but not for men, educational inequalities in overweight were generally greater in Southern European countries. A similar pattern of inequalities in overweight was observed for all ages between 25 and 64 years. Conclusions: Across Europe, overweight was more strongly and more consistently related to educational attainment than to occupational class or household income. People with lower educational attainment should be a specific target group for programmes and policies that aim to prevent overweight.

, , , , ,
doi.org/10.1017/S1368980008002747, hdl.handle.net/1765/32459
Public Health Nutrition
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Roskam, A.-J., & Kunst, A. (2008). The predictive value of different socio-economic indicators for overweight in nine European countries. Public Health Nutrition, 11(12), 1256–1266. doi:10.1017/S1368980008002747