An interesting article last week found that people living near takeaways were more likely to be overweight.
A Geography of Obesity?
But what is the evidence about the link between location and weight?
Here are some useful starting points for research:
- The article was based on the work of the UKCRC Centre for Diet and Activity Research, MRC Epidemiology Unit, University of Cambridge. Their website discusses ongoing research. There are also some useful evidence briefs on children and nutirition and the association between diet and economics.
- For further comment on the methodology of the survey see the summary on NHS choices.
- Nationally Public Health England recently released a paper on regulating the growth of fast-food outlets. Their website also has some obesity data. This includes child and adult obesity maps; breakdowns by local authority (which reveal regional disparities) and a map of geographic trends for adults over the period 1993-2011.
NHS Information Centre for Health and Social Care. has some useful data on weight, food consumption, diet and levels of physical activity for England.
- Further related statistics can be found in the National Diet and Nutrition survey which has breakdowns by age and gender.
- Whereas the Children’s Food Trust has some research on children and diet and the link between school meal take up and obesity.
- The National Obesity Forum is an independent professional organisation. Its website has data and reviews of health promotion projects. It recent State of the Nation’s Waistlines report audited the extent of the problem in the UK.
- The OECD provides a wider picture of cross national comparisons. Download the 2014 Obesity update for the latest analysis. See the file on the UK health data and policy for the shocking fact that obesity rates in the United Kingdom are the highest in Europe and predicted to rise by 10% in the next 10 years.
- Globally the World Health Organization is also recording higher levels of obesity worldwide. See its Global Database on Body Mass Index
- The Lancet has also published this recent systematic review on the extent of obesity in children and adults worldwide from 1980-2013.
- The World Obesity Federation represents professional members of the scientific, medical and research communities from over 50 regional and national obesity associations. Its website has online reports, news and briefings.
Are Poor People Fatter?
But what other factors influence weight? In 2013 a UK government minister caused a storm by suggesting that poor people in the UK were more likely to be overweight.
- The Joseph Rowntree Trust has disputed this claim.
- NHS Choices has reviewed a recent study which claimed that poor urban children were more likely to eat junk food for lunch.
- The sources listed above – in particular the diet surveys, can help you examine actual data on this. The Children’s Food Trust website also has some interesting materials on free school meals and health.
- The Royal College of Physicians also has on its website a useful leaflet of sources on the relationship between food poverty, diet and health.
- However other factors in addition to socioeconomic status and location may be at play. Consider reports from the National Obesity Observatory which consider the impact of culture and ethnicity on weight.
- The Association for the Study of Obesity is a Uk based academic network. Explore its website for links to the latest research.
Further research resources
- Try searching NHS evidence for examples of UK clinical reviews, health guidance and policy.
- PubMed provides free references to articles in medical journals. In some cases there are links to free full text.
LSE Subscription Resources
- Cinahl Plus provides access to materials dating back to 1937 which cover all aspects of nursing and health.
- The ISI Web of Science has articles from 1900 onwards. These include medical and the social science aspects of health. This database also allows you to easily trace highly cited articles.
- Scopus also has extensive coverage of health. Most articles are from 1997 onwards.
- If you are looking for articles about health in developing countries. Try CABI Global Health which has references to articles published since the 1970s.
- For Full text UK government document son health policy use Public Information Online (for items since 1996) and House of Commons Papers for older materials and historic Hansard.