Journal of Public Health

, Volume 16, Issue 6, pp 403–411

Income-related inequality in the distribution of obesity among Europeans

Original Article

DOI: 10.1007/s10389-008-0185-x

Cite this article as:
Nikolaou, A. & Nikolaou, D. J Public Health (2008) 16: 403. doi:10.1007/s10389-008-0185-x



The current study concentrates on the issue of income related inequality in obesity for the case of European Union, an association, which has not been thoroughly examined in the literature.

Subjects and methods

Ten European countries for a period of 4 consecutive years (1998–2001) are under consideration, with the information deriving from the “European Community Household Panel” (ECHP) dataset. In order to elaborate on the above association, the concentration index was selected as a means for measuring quantitatively the degree of inequality. Furthermore, an alternative method was introduced, known as the “indirect standardization method,” so as to examine if the observed level of inequality was over-reported.


Treating the European Union as a whole, income inequality in obesity appears to be a burden for the less affluent. Investigation of each country separately reveals that inequality is of most importance for the female population, and especially for the middle-aged one, while no clear association was found for the males. Furthermore, negligence to adjust the models for the education level and the employment status could lead to an over-estimation of the inequality in obesity.


Our primary results attest to the existing literature, showing that a BMI with a value greater than 30 is most likely to be an encumbrance for those of low socioeconomic profiles. However, the extent of inequality in the European Union is found to be low. Effective preventive policies should address the low socioeconomic status female population in Europe, and special attention should be given to the middle-aged.


Income inequality Obesity Socioeconomic status Concentration index Indirect estimation method 

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EconomicsUniversity of MacedoniaThessalonikiGreece

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