Trends and determinants of weight gains among OECD countries: an ecological study

S. Nghiem, X. B. Vu, A. Barnett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives: Obesity has become a global issue with abundant evidence to indicate that the prevalence of obesity in many nations has increased over time. The literature also reports a strong association between obesity and economic development, but the trend that obesity growth rates may converge over time has not been examined. We propose a conceptual framework and conduct an ecological analysis on the relationship between economic development and weight gain. We also test the hypothesis that weight gain converges among countries over time and examine determinants of weight gains. Study design: This is a longitudinal study of 34 Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries in the years 1980–2008 using publicly available data. Methods: We apply a dynamic economic growth model to test the hypothesis that the rate of weight gains across countries may converge over time. We also investigate the determinants of weight gains using a longitudinal regression tree analysis. Results: We do not find evidence that the growth rates of body weight across countries converged for all countries. However, there were groups of countries in which the growth rates of body weight converge, with five groups for males and seven groups for females. The predicted growth rates of body weight peak when gross domestic product (GDP) per capita reaches US$47,000 for males and US$37,000 for females in OECD countries. National levels of consumption of sugar, fat and alcohol were the most important contributors to national weight gains. Conclusion: National weight gains follow an inverse U-shape curve with economic development. Excessive calorie intake is the main contributor to weight gains.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)31-39
Number of pages9
JournalPublic Health
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2018
Externally publishedYes


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