The role of gender inequality in the obesity epidemic: a case study from India using IHDS panel data (2005-2011/12)

Published: 3 May 2022| Version 1 | DOI: 10.17632/zzhh6fvkrv.1


Recent empirical evidence emphasizes the higher prevalence of overweight and obesity for women, especially in developing countries. However, the potential link between gender inequality and obesity has rarely been investigated. Using longitudinal data from India (IHDS 2005-11), we implement Hausman-Taylor and fixed-effect models to estimate the effect of different dimensions of gender inequalities on female overweight. This study demonstrates that the form of gender inequality or women’s mistreatment differently affects female bodyweight. Indeed, we show that some forms of women’s mistreatments (such as perceived community violence and age difference with husband) increase the risk of female overweight, whereas more severe forms of abuse such as child marriage increase the risk of underweight. Moreover, we also find that higher decision-making power and autonomy about outings are risk factors of weight gain and obesity, especially in urban settings, perhaps indicating a higher exposure to urban obesogenic lifestyles. To conclude, our results suggest that, although improving women’s status in society may be a key action to address the epidemic of obesity, policies must also target hazardous habits that emancipation may imply in urban (obesogenic) environments. These meta-data include: (i) the merged database from the two waves of IHDS we used in the study (.dta in Stata format); (ii) the codes used for data treatment and analysis (.do in Stata format). Original IHDS data are freely available on: Further details about our methods and results will be published soon in a scientific journal and will reference these meta-data. Keywords: India; Gender inequality; Obesity; Hausman-Taylor estimations; Fixed effects estimations. JEL codes: I14 I15 J16



Economic Development, Health Inequality, Gender