There is a long tradition of observational studies from developed societies linking overweight and obesity to low socioeconomic status (SES). The aim of this study is to assess the relationship between SES and obesity and determine whether variations in the body mass index (BMI) of adult Nigerians is influenced by their SES. The height and body weight of 1067 adults, aged 30 - 60 years were measured and their BMI was calculated. A structured questionnaire which assessed socioeconomic (SE) variables such as income, education and occupation was used to objectively classify the participants into the different SE strata. A pictorial self-rating SES ladder of nine rungs was employed to assess the participants’ SES and to test the validity of the questionnaire. A high correlation ® = 0.951, P < 0.01) was found between the two SES assessment tools. SE
scores were found to be inversely related to weight ® = - 0.113, P < 0.01) and BMI ® = - 0.172, P < 0.01), respectively. There was a significant relationship (X2 = 32.853; p = 0.000) between BMI categories and SES. Individuals in the lower SES had higher rates of overweight (24.8%) and obesity (12.9%). There were significant differences in the weight (F = 8.407; p = 0.000) and BMI (F = 20.66; p= 0.000) across the different SE strata. An inverse relationship was found between SES and BMI. Individuals in the lower SE strata had a greater BMI and a higher prevalence of overweight and obesity.
KEY WORDS: socioeconomic status, body mass index, overweight, obesity