A Bit of Obesity and Income Disparity

George Bray chose to talk about the relationship between obesity and income disparity yesterday as he delivered the Inaugural Blackburn Lecture at the Blackburn Course in Obesity Medicine. Bray was careful to point out that while the relationship has been observed, the evidence proves nothing about causality.

Nonetheless, the prevalence of obesity has followed the rise in income disparity. States with greater income disparities have greater obesity prevalence, as do developed countries. Bray explained that the relationship may arise from stress that income disparities produce.

The lecture honors George Blackburn, whom Bray noted was a key figure in establishing the North American Association for the Study of Obesity (NAASO), now known as The Obesity Society. Bray praised Blackburn for his accomplishments in obesity medicine and equally for the energy, charm, and generous good will that he brings to the field. Bray himself is something of a legend in obesity medicine, holding the enviable title of Emeritus Director of the Pennington Biomedical Research Center and being another of the original founders of NAASO.

Bray’s lecture ranged from heaping praise on Blackburn to 35,000 years of obesity history, neurological and inflammatory mechanisms for obesity, and income disparities.

Click here, here, and here to read studies of income disparity and obesity. Click here to read a critical analysis of the data.

Disparity, photograph © EyeTunes / flickr

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