Socioeconomic status can be divided into many different sections. Some argue that it is only divided based on education, because this leads to certain occupations and a base income. These factors alone, some believe will influence one’s socioeconomic status. Moreover, some believe that the education one attains, and the socioeconomic status one rises to as a result of their education, may or may not have an impact on their obesity. Essentially, some studies show there is a relationship between education, socioeconomic status, and the level of obesity in today’s population, stating that how smart you are dictates how fat you are. Even after reading numerous studies myself, I wanted to conduct my own quantitative research on the subject, the primary goal being to ascertain whether education has an effect on obesity, or whether it has no impact at all.
According to Amanda Elaine Ayers, author of, “Trends in the Association Between Socioeconomic Status and Obesity in U.S. Adults: 2002-2012,” socioeconomic status is definable by education. Traditionally, research has shown a college degree or anything beyond a college degree, such as a Masters or a Doctorate, puts the individual at a statistical advantage for being healthier than those who do not obtain college degrees or higher educational documents. Ayers’ research also found that a college degree was significant for femals in staying healthy, but not significant for males. Only a degree beyond college was significant for males in staving off obesity. Though the studies differ slightly in gender, they propose gaining higher education allows individuals access to healthcare, as well as knowledge about healthcare and and a healthier lifestyle. This results in a life lacking in obesity for most individuals who complete higher education programs.
In contrast, Qi Zang and Youfa Wang, authors of Trends in the Association between Obesity and Socioeconomic Status in U.S. Adults: 1971 to 2000,” found the discrepancies in obesity between individuals differing in education and, therefore, socioeconomic status, has decreased over the past 30 years . This reesulted to the increase in obesity across the educational divides. Individuals with less than a high school diploma, as well as individuals who had obtained their Doctorals were all experiencing obesity at a higher rate, suggesting individual determinents, such as level of education, are not the likely indicator of whether a person will be obese . Socioeconomically, it has been suggested that obesity prevention target individuals on all levels, rather than just those who are considered below a level of adequate education.
It is important to conduct this research because there are already enough stereotypes working against those with obesity. To add an automatic stipulation that they will be associated with a lower socioeconomic class is unnecessary, especially when the reality of the situation is they are victims of their status. The study is also important because it helps health officials realize where their expertise is needed most. Highly educated individuals are helped automatically, while those who are under-educated are left to suffer in their own ignorance; it is unfair. This approach is an effective way to investigate the questions because it assesses why individuals are grouped into socioeconomic classes, as well as what are defining factors and what are byproducts of the different socioeconomic levels. Education was found to be a determinate of socioeconomic status, primarily based on income. Because income garnered more power and respect within the community, more outside education was a byproduct of that. This included education about health. Lesser-educated individuals experienced lower income and were grouped into lower socioeconomic levels as a result. As a further result, these individuals experienced depression, a lack of drive to further their education, and less help from community resources. A byproduct of that is obesity. Therefore, obesity cannot be a defining factor of socioeconomic status, but simply a byproduct.
Despite the research, I wanted to be certain if an individual’s education level definitively had an impact on their obesity. I conducted a survey wherein I used the quantitative method my research required participants to allow me access to their height and weight. I compared their height and weight to the BMI scale in order to decide whether the average physician would consider the individual obese. Twenty-five college-educated individuals were questioned, and twenty-five individuals who had not graduated high school were questioned. According to my results, 67% of the college graduates I assessed were considered obese by the BMI scale while only 50% of the individuals who had not graduated college would have been considered obese by the BMI scale. Therefore, according to my results, obesity is not a definitive factor in socioeconomic status.
In sum, many factors could be used to determine an individual’s socioeconomic status. Education, occupation, and income, are only a few. It appears through the research I reviewed, as well as my own studies that I have definitively proven obesity is not a defining factor in an individual’s socioeconomic status, but rather a byproduct. My personal research, though small in size, would suggest that it may not be a byproduct. My definitive research is needed to determine whether socioeconomic status makes us more obese.
Ayers, Amanda Elaine. "Trends in the Association Between Socioeconomic Status and Obesity in U.S. Adults: 2002-2012." Thesis. 2014. Report.
Zang, Qi and Youfa Wang. "Trends in the Association between Obesity and Socioeconomic Status in U.S. Adults: 1971 to 2000." Obesity Research (2004): 1622-1632. Article.