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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Brown: Despite Socioeconomic Growth, Obesity Burden Still Affects Higher Socioeconomic Groups in Samoa

Researchers from the Brown University School of Public Health have recently published a study documenting the association between socioeconomic resources and adiposity traits on the islands of Samoa, in the journal SSM – Population Health. The study was led by doctoral candidate Ms. Courtney Choy, working with Dr. Stephen McGarvey, a professor of epidemiology and anthropology and the director of the International Health Institute at the school, and Drs. Take Naseri and Nicola Hawley, adjunct assistant professors of epidemiology.

Patterns from other low- and middle- income countries show that earlier in economic development, the burden of obesity falls on those with higher socioeconomic resources. As economic development continues, it is expected that this burden will shift to those with lower socioeconomic resources. To measure the association between adiposity traits and socioeconomic resources, the researchers used a household asset based approach to measure the latter and used body mass index (BMI) and abdominal circumference to measure the former. Data was used from a prior genome-wide association study conducted in 2010, which involved 3,370 Samoans aged 24-65.

They found that despite their being significant economic growth and development in Samoa prior to the year 2010, no shift in the burden of obesity was observed and adiposity traits remained higher in adults with higher socioeconomic resources; which is uncharacteristic of patterns seen in economic development of other countries. Among other suggestions, the authors suggest that action should be taken to disseminate public health messages to target different groups to promote healthy lifestyles for obesity prevention and control efforts in Samoa.

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