Research & Publications

The shift of obesity burden by socioeconomic status between 1998 and 2017 in Latin America and the Caribbean: a cross-sectional series study

By December 10, 2019September 24th, 2020No Comments


The Lancet Global Health

Safia S Jiwani 1 ,
Rodrigo M Carrillo-Larco 2 ,
Akram Hernández-Vásquez 3 ,
Tonatiuh Barrientos-Gutiérrez 4 ,
Ana Basto-Abreu 4 ,
Laura Gutierrez 5 ,
Vilma Irazola 5 ,
Ramfis Nieto-Martínez 6 ,
Bruno P Nunes 7 ,
Diana C Parra 8 ,
J Jaime Miranda 9

Background: The burden of obesity differs by socioeconomic status. We aimed to
characterise the prevalence of obesity among adult men and women in Latin
America and the Caribbean by socioeconomic measures and the shifting
obesity burden over time.
Methods: We did a cross-sectional series analysis of obesity prevalence by
socioeconomic status by use of national health surveys done between 1998
and 2017 in 13 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. We generated
equiplots to display inequalities in, the primary outcome, obesity by
wealth, education, and residence area. We measured obesity gaps as the
difference in percentage points between the highest and lowest obesity
prevalence within each socioeconomic measure, and described trends as well
as changing patterns of the obesity burden over time.
Findings: 479 809 adult men and women were included in the analysis. Obesity
prevalence across countries has increased over time, with distinct patterns
emerging by wealth and education indices. In the most recent available
surveys, obesity was most prevalent among women in Mexico in 2016, and the
least prevalent among women in Haiti in 2016. The largest gap between the
highest and lowest obesity estimates by wealth was observed in Honduras
among women (21·6 percentage point gap), and in Peru among men (22·4
percentage point gap), compared with a 3·7 percentage point gap among women
in Brazil and 3·3 percentage points among men in Argentina. Urban residents
consistently had a larger burden than their rural counterparts in most
countries, with obesity gaps ranging from 0·1 percentage points among women
in Paraguay to 15·8 percentage points among men in Peru. The trend analysis
done in five countries suggests a shifting of the obesity burden across
socioeconomic groups and different patterns by gender. Obesity gaps by
education in Mexico have reduced over time among women, but increased among
men, whereas the gap has increased among women but remains relatively
constant among men in Argentina.
Interpretation: The increase in obesity prevalence in the Latin American and Caribbean
region has been paralleled with an unequal distribution and a shifting
burden across socioeconomic groups. Anticipation of the establishment of
obesity among low socioeconomic groups could provide opportunities for
societal gains in primordial prevention.
Funding: None.


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