Treatment Hurdles: Socio-Economic Status

Today’s post is another excerpt from “Best Weight: A Practical Guide to Office-Based Weight Management“, recently published by the Canadian Obesity Network.

This guide is meant for health professionals dealing with obese clients and is NOT a self-management tool or weight-loss program. However, I assume that even general readers may find some of this material of interest.


Socio-economic factors are closely associated with obesity. This relationship is complex: just as socio-economic status may influence obesity, obesity may influence socio-economic status, and common factors may influence both. In developing countries, obesity is associated with higher socio-economic status, while in developed countries, low income and low education have been associated with both obesity and weight-related co-morbidities.

Changes in diet and activity levels may be more difficult to accomplish for people of lower socio-economic status. Lower income makes it difficult to afford healthy foods (i.e., lean meat cuts, fruits and vegetables can be more expensive than cereals and foods that are rich in fat and sugar). As well, medications and surgical interventions for obesity may not be covered by public health plans.

Individuals from lower-income strata may not be able to afford access to exercise facilities or organized sports programs, and may lack time for discretionary physical activity. Other barriers to exercise can include a lack of social support, the physical limitations of excess weight, a dislike for or medical inability to participate in vigorous exercise, embarrassment and past unpleasant experiences. Some may find it easier to incorporate more physical activity into to their daily lives (e.g., using stairs instead of elevators, walking to work or parking a couple of blocks from work, etc.) than to commit to scheduled exercise sessions.

© Copyright 2010 by Dr. Arya M. Sharma and Dr. Yoni Freedhoff. All rights reserved.

The opinions in this book are those of the authors and do not represent those of the Canadian Obesity Network.

Members of the Canadian Obesity Network can download Best Weight for free.

Best Weight is also available at Amazon and Barnes & Nobles (part of the proceeds from all sales go to support the Canadian Obesity Network)

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