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Men with fatter wallets have bigger waistlines

world Updated: May 15, 2010 13:52 IST

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The bigger the wallet, the bigger is the waistline, says a new study.

Nathalie Dumas, a graduate student at the University of Montreal (UM) Department of Sociology who led the study, said: "Women aren't spared by this correlation, but the results are ambiguous."

"However, women from rich households are less likely to be obese than women of middle or lower incomes," he added.

Dumas used data from the 2004 Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS). This provided access to information on some 7,000 adults aged 25 to 65.

"Many epidemiological studies have established that the odds of being overweight or obese decrease as family income increases," Dumas said. "But we don't know why this relationship is inverted for Canadian men. According to the CCHS, the richer they are, the fatter they are."

Epidemiology is the study of factors affecting the health and illness of people.

So why are rich men and poor women more likely to be obese? Dumas researched all existing literature and concluded that only a socio-economic hypothesis could explain the link of obesity and income for women. Yet no hypothesis could explain the phenomenon observed in Canadian men.

"Since the 1980s, the greatest increase in obesity levels has been among rich Canadian and Korean men," said Dumas, according to an UM release.

According to Dumas, one possible explanation is dining out. "Canadians love restaurants. And people who regularly eat out have no control over what they eat. They also tend to eat more calories and consume larger amounts of alcohol."

Too many restaurant meals, combined with a decrease in physical activity, is another possibility. "There are obviously various factors at play: We still haven't empirically proved them," Dumas maintained.

By 2030, according to the World Health Organisation, 2.3 billion people will be overweight and 700 million will be obese.