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Saúde e Sociedade

Print version ISSN 0104-1290


PEDRAZA, Dixis Figueroa. Obesity and poverty: conceptual references for its analysis in Latin America. Saude soc. [online]. 2009, vol.18, n.1, pp.103-117. ISSN 0104-1290.

Obesity has a multifactorial etiology in which the most important factors are related to lifestyle. High prevalence of obesity is basically caused by important changes in nourishment, in the pattern of physical activity and by other sociocultural factors, which have produced a nutritional transition process. Due to the trends of increase and of social differences in obesity, the minorities and populations with lower educational and socioeconomic level can be the most affected groups. In poor people, obesity is associated, among others, with malnutrition episodes in childhood, even during intrauterine life, and also with alimentary, sociocultural and gender factors. The relationship between obesity and socioeconomic condition is very changeable and complex, since the association is different in distinct socioeconomic contexts and it may remain hidden by several factors (physical exercise, diet, psychological factors, heredity, sociocultural factors) that influence the association. The socioeconomic level might determine the presence of obesity, and obesity, in turn, might cause social consequences to the individual (if social mobility is the most relevant factor, obesity is the one that would determine the individual's social position). The arguments proposed here are sufficient to justify the importance of the problem in Latin America. Thus, it must represent a challenge, principally for researchers and decision makers, translatable in prioritizing obesity in poverty conditions.

Keywords : Obesity; Poverty.

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