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Socioeconomics of Obesity

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Purpose of Review

The purpose of this review is to evaluate and emphasize important findings in the recent literature regarding the socioeconomics of obesity. It is important to evaluate trends of this global epidemic and elucidate its impact on different demographic groups and across socioeconomic strata.

Recent Findings

Obesity rates continue to increase domestically and globally which is associated with a concomitant rise in medical and economic costs. There are disparities in obesity rates based on race/ethnicity, sex, gender and sexual identity, and socioeconomic status, yet these disparities are not explained fully by health behaviors, socioeconomic position, or cumulative stress alone—community and societal environmental factors have a significant role in the obesity epidemic.


Socioeconomic factors contribute to obesity on an individual and community level, and any viable approach to sustainably addressing the obesity epidemic must take these factors into account.

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The study was financially supported by the National Institutes of Health and Massachusetts General Hospital Executive Committee on Research (ECOR) (FCS) and National Institutes of Health NIDDK P30 DK040561 (FCS) and L30 DK118710 (FCS).

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Correspondence to Chika Vera Anekwe.

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Chika Vera Anekwe, Amber R. Jarrell, Matthew J. Townsend, Gabriela I. Gaudier and Julia M. Hiserodt declare that they have no conflict of interest. Fatima Cody Stanford serves on the advisory board of Novo Nordisk.

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Anekwe, C.V., Jarrell, A.R., Townsend, M.J. et al. Socioeconomics of Obesity. Curr Obes Rep 9, 272–279 (2020).

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