A study by Arizona State University has found that the number of people who have become morbidly overweight halved in the three years after the financial crisis of 2007. The results mystified researchers because they had expected waistlines to bloat as recession hurt family incomes. Previous studies have found that people with less money tend to buy foods which are cheaper but calorie rich—takeaways and pre-packaged meals – which is why poorer families are more likely to gain weight.
Academics do not yet know why the most recent research appears to suggest that having less money reduces the number of people becoming fat. Researchers based their finding on information collected from 350,000 adults in the US, according to the Daily Mail. Researchers sought their height and weight, to calculate their body mass index (BMI) or height to weight ratio. The World Health Organisation considers a person obese if they have a BMI score of 30 or over, and overweight if they have a score of between 25 and 30.
Arizona researchers said: “In all but the poorest income group the annual increase in BMI decelerated substantially during the recession. There is little evidence that the economic downturn has exacerbated obesity by causing people to consume cheaper foods.” Obesity rates in the UK – as in the US – have been rising for 20 years. As many as a quarter of all Britons are officially classed as so overweight it threatens their health, and UK women are the fattest in Europe