When it comes to trends in body weight, there are no easy answers.
A new study by by Vanderbilt University researchers reveals new nuances in the links between a person’s weight and the socioeconomic status of the people close to them, and suggests that gender plays a significant role in that relationship. The study, Does Your Body Know Who You Know? Multiple Roles of Network Members’ Socioeconomic Status for Body Weight Ratings, appears online in the Journal of Sociological Perspectives. (my emphasis)
Though in the West high socioeconomic status is associated with slenderness, the relationship between status and weight is actually more nuanced than that. Using nationally representative data from the 2004 U.S. General Social Survey, Lijun Song, professor of sociology, and graduate students Philip Pettis and Bhumika PiyaSong analyzed the relationship between an individual’s weight as measured by a visual evaluation, the socioeconomic status of the people they’re close to as measured by their educational attainment, lifestyle as measured by self-reported athleticism, and gender.
While Song and her colleagues found no direct link between an individual’s weight and the socioeconomic status of their personal network, they did find an indirect one through lifestyle. Continue reading