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According to new research published in the American Journal of Health Promotion, education is the main factor in the fight against obesity. Just because you have money doesn’t mean you will take steps to keep your weight in check. However, if you are educated you will be more likely to eat healthier and exercise. “Researchers have been studying the relationship between body mass index and socioeconomic status for years, agreeing, for the most part, that women in areas with fewer economic resources have higher BMIs than women in more affluent communities,” reports The Huffington Post.

Researchers from Deakin University in Victoria, Australia gathered data from more than 4,000 women, ages 18 to 45, living in low-income neighborhoods and examined the role of education and income on BMI.

They looked specifically at subjects who are at what they call an “amplified disadvantage,” meaning they have a disadvantage in both education and income. “It has often been suggested that obesity happens because low-income people cannot afford high-quality food. Yet this study’s results suggest an alternative narrative: that it is education, and not income, that constrains people’s ability to eat healthfully,” said Frederick J. Zimmerman, Ph.D., the Fred W. and Pamela K. Wasserman Professor and Chair of the Department of Health Policy & Management in the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health.

On the other hand, a person’s education level was associated with greater access to health information and the capacity to understand and use health information, the study found.

Zimmerman also added that “because only low-income women were studied, it isn’t clear to what extent the results would apply to higher-income women, to men or to non-Australians.”

A 2010 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention looked not only at income and education but also at race. The CDC data shows there is no significant correlation between obesity and education among men. Women were a different story. The CDC report was more in line with the new research finding that women with college degrees are less likely to be obese compared with less educated women.

“Overall, 29.0% of women who live in households with income at or above 350% of the poverty level are obese and 42.0% of those with income below 130% of the poverty level are obese,” found the CDC. Among women 23.4 percent of those with a college degree are obese and 42.1 percent of women with less than a high school education are obese. Non-Hispanic white and Mexican-American women with college degrees are significantly less likely to be obese compared with those with less than a high school education.

“In fact, among non-Hispanic white, non-Hispanic black, and Mexican-American women, the prevalence of obesity among those with a college degree is significantly lower than among women with some college,” found the CDC.

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