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Long-Run Changes in the Body Mass Index of Adults in Three Food-Abundant Settler Societies: Australia, Canada and New Zealand

John Cranfield, Kris Inwood, Les Oxley () and Evan Roberts
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Evan Roberts: University of Minnesota

Working Papers in Economics from University of Waikato

Abstract: We identify changes in body mass index (BMI) since the 19th century, for three British-origin, food abundant, settler societies: Australia, Canada and New Zealand. The onset of sustained BMI increase came later in these societies than in the US. New Zealand shows a distinctive pattern of within-country gender differences. The gap between Australian Canadian males (leading) and female BMIs remains large with some increases in the gap in the 35-39 year age group, but narrowing in the 45-49 range especially in Australia. In contrast, the BMI of both sexes in New Zealand has effectively converged for most age ranges (although it has been similar for the 45-49 age range since 1977). In terms of cross-country comparisons, the results show a remarkably similar long-term pattern for males in all three countries although the absolute differences between leading BMI countries has changed over time culminating in New Zealand being the ‘top ranked’ obese country for males in the 20-49 age group. For females the pattern and trends are quite different, with New Zealand women exceeding the BMI of same aged females in Australia and Canada from the 1980s onwards. If anything the results suggest that New Zealand female BMI continues to grow while that of Australia may be leveling off.

Keywords: obesity; body mass index; Canada; New Zealand; Australia (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: I1 J11 N3 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-hea
Date: 2017-07-24
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