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Behavioral and societal drivers of an obesogenic environment worldwide

Eduardo Botti Abbade (Center for Agribusiness Studies (CEPAN), Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS), Porto Alegre, Brazil; AND Department of Social Sciences, Business Administration Course, Franciscan University Center (UNIFRA), Santa Maria, Brazil)
Homero Dewes (Department of Biophysics, Biosciences Institute, and Center for Agribusiness Research (CEPAN), Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS), Porto Alegre, Brazil)

Nutrition & Food Science

ISSN: 0034-6659

Article publication date: 9 March 2015



This paper aims to present an ecological study that analyzed the impact of societal and behavioral factors on the obesogenic situation worldwide. The societal variables included urbanization, motorization and educational and economic developments, while the behavioral variables consisted of nutritional intake and insufficient physical activity (IPA).


This investigation was based on official data concerning 99 countries, in the first part of the reference model, and 92 countries, in the second part. The constructs were measured through urban population (per cent), energy/protein/fat supply, expected years of schooling, gross domestic product and gross national income per capita, vehicles per 1,000 inhabitants, average body mass index and IPA level of the populations. Data, obtained through the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, World Health Organization, World Bank and United Nations, were analyzed mainly through descriptive, factor and multiple regression analyses.


The results suggested that nutritional supply/intake, IPA and educational-level impact significantly and positively on the obesogenic situation (p < 0.01, p < 0.001 and p < 0.001, respectively). In addition, urbanization significantly affects the IPA (p < 0.01). Evidence also suggested that economic development impacts negatively on obesogenic severity (p < 0.01).


Developing economies might face severe obesogenic problems in the future, given their limited access to healthy food and their growing urbanization; thus, nutritional intake should not be seen as the main antecedent of the obesogenic environment. This paper provides comprehensive information to policymakers and researchers interested in the severity of the global obesogenic environment.



Abbade, E.B. and Dewes, H. (2015), "Behavioral and societal drivers of an obesogenic environment worldwide", Nutrition & Food Science, Vol. 45 No. 2, pp. 229-241.



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