Published Papers - Abstract 436

Williams L, Germov J & Young A. The effect of social class on mid-age women's weight control practices and weight gain. Appetite, 2011; 56(3): 719-725

The prevalence of obesity and weight gain is higher in the working class, but we know little about practices used to control weight. This study examined associations between self-defined social class (upper, middle, or working class), weight control practices, and two-year weight change among 11,589 mid-aged women (aged 47–52) participating in the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health (ALSWH). A multivariate model tested whether mean weight change over a two-year period differed by social class after adjusting for area, age, education, baseline BMI, and smoking. The results showed that working-class women had a significantly higher mean (se) two-year weight gain at 1.27 (0.07) kg compared with middle/upper-class women at 1.01 (0.07) kg. They were significantly more likely to use potentially harmful weight control practices (12.8%) than middle/upper-class women (8.9%) (chisquared test = 30.65, p<0.0001), and less likely to use exercise to control weight. The studyprovides longitudinal evidence that weight control practices and weight gain are related to social class, which has implications for the development of weight gain prevention programs for this high-risk group. The findings of this study are discussed in the framework of Bourdieu’s insights on the associations between social class and lifestyle practices.