Emerging disparities in overweight by educational attainment in Chinese adults (1989-2006). from the International Journal of Obesity [London]
It appeared to be a great naturalistic study of the effect of increasing capitalism on body weight. Since China dropped strict communism and allowed individual financial enterprise, there has been a gradual division of their society into the more and less educated and the more and less well-off. Some scholars from California analysed the China Health & Nutrition Survey data and discovered that well-educated Chinese women have become slimmer and well-educated Chinese men have become much larger than their less educated fellows.
I haven't delved into the methodology to see were the sample came from and how severe the differences in education or income, but it is an interesting result for the Chinese to follow the Western pattern, rather than that of a society where bodily bulk means power and money, eg. in some African groups & formerly in the Pacific Islands.
From Robert Lindsay's blog, this photo of a Western, Caucasoid, Chinese man:
We seem to accept in Australia that people from lower SES groups become more obese than their high-SES neighbours due to eating too many high-fat, high carbohydrate foods and not enough fruit, vegetables and lean meat (protein). Would the same mechanism have emerged in China or does their different dietary tradition insulate them from this effect? Perhaps the Chinese have adopted Western-style meals and fatty take-aways as the norm these days (it didn't seem to be the norm when I visited a few years ago, but youngsters obviously relished their KFC and McDonalds when they had enough money for them)?
These possibilities need to be explored before accepting that the Chinese change in the distribution of obesity is due to Westernisation of the diet. There is also the racial mixture of the people in the study sample to consider. In the East of China, especially the giant cities of Beijing & Shanghai, most people are the larger-boned Han Chinese, but in the West most are more Caucasoid with finer bones and fairer hair. The diets tend to be different as well, with higher fat, more protein in the East and less variety, less fat and less food overall in the West.
However, we still haven't explained why rich women are thin and rich men are fat (on average, compared with other SES groups). Is there more to it than diet and psychology?