The European Journal of Health Economics

, Volume 15, Issue 2, pp 203–221 | Cite as

Socioeconomic inequalities in adult obesity risk in Canada: trends and decomposition analyses

  • Mohammad Hajizadeh
  • M. Karen Campbell
  • Sisira SarmaEmail author
Original Paper


This study examines trends in socioeconomic-related inequalities in obesity risk among Canadian adults (aged 18–65 years) from 2000 to 2010 using five nationally representative Canadian Community Health Surveys (CCHSs). We employed the concentration index (C) to quantify the socioeconomic inequalities in obesity risk across different demographic groups and geographic regions in each survey period. A decomposition analysis of inequality is performed to determine factors that lie behind income-related inequality in obesity risk. Although declining over time, the results show that there exists income-related inequality in obesity risk in Canada. The estimated Cs for men indicate that obesity is concentrated among the rich and its trend is increasing over time. The findings, however, suggest that obesity is more prevalent among economically disadvantaged women. While we found that obesity is mainly concentrated among the poor in the Atlantic Provinces, the degree of socioeconomic related inequality in obesity risk is increasing in these provinces. The results for Alberta showed that obesity is concentrated among the better-off individuals. The decomposition analysis suggests that factors such as demographics, income, immigration, education, drinking habits, and physical activity are the key factors explaining income-related inequality in obesity risk in Canada. Our empirical findings suggest that, in order to combat the obesity epidemic, health policies should focus on poorer females and economically well-off males.


Socioeconomic inequality Obesity Decomposition analysis Canada 

JEL Classification

I14 D63 I18 



We thank three anonymous reviewers of this journal for their thoughtful comments and suggestion which have substantially improved the manuscript. We would also like to thank comments of participants of the 46th Annual Conference of the Canadian Economics Association held at the University of Calgary, June 7-10, 2012, where a preliminary version of this paper was presented. Funding for this research by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) operating grant (reference number: MOP–97763) is gratefully acknowledged. The views expressed in this paper are the views of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of any affiliated organization.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mohammad Hajizadeh
    • 1
  • M. Karen Campbell
    • 1
    • 2
  • Sisira Sarma
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Schulich School of Medicine and DentistryThe University of Western OntarioLondonCanada
  2. 2.Departments of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Paediatrics, Schulich School of Medicine and DentistryThe University of Western OntarioLondonCanada

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